A local Sufi leader has been found hacked to death in Bangladesh in a suspected Islamist killing, police said on Saturday, two weeks after the Islamic State group claimed the murder of a liberal professor in the same northwestern district.
Mohammad Shahidullah, 65, went missing after leaving home on Friday morning, until villagers last night found his body in a pool of blood in a mango grove in Rajshahi.
“He was not a famous Sufi. But there could be a possibility that he was killed by Islamist militants,” Rajshahi district police chief Nisharul Arif told AFP.
The police officer said the killing of the self-proclaimed Sufi master was “similar” to a recent spate of hacking murders of religious minorities in the country.
“He was slaughtered from his neck and there are also some deep gashes in his throat,” Abdur Razzak, a local police official said, adding that “he had scores of followers in a nearby district”.
Sufi Islam is a mystical form of Islam popular in rural Bangladesh but considered deviant by many of the country’s majority Sunni Muslims.
They include the Saudi-inspired Salafis and Wahabis, who are gaining strength in the country.
Suspected Islamists have carried out dozens of murders of atheist bloggers, liberal voices and religious minorities in recent years including Sufi, Shia and Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Christians and foreigners.
Some of the attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State group and a local branch of al-Qaida, although Dhaka denies the transnational groups have any presence in the country.
Hindu tailor, gay activists and a professor targeted recently
A series of hacking deaths
These killings follow the deaths of several others in Bangladesh since 2013, including bloggers and the hacking death of a professor at a bus stop April 23.
The professor, 58-year-old Rezaul Karim Siddique, was an English teacher at Rajshahi University.
ISIS claimed responsibility for Siddique’s death, saying he was slain “for calling to atheism.” CNN could not independently confirm either the terror outfit’s claim or Siddique’s religious beliefs.
CNN’s Ravi Agrawal reported from New Delhi and journalist Farid Ahmed reported from Dhaka. CNN’s Joe Sterling contributed to this report