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Bangladesh Pastor Escapes Knife Attack

  • Associated Press

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh

A Bangladeshi pastor has survived an attempt on his life by three men who came to his home pretending to want to learn about Christianity, police and the victim said Tuesday.

The incident follows the fatal attacks on two foreigners last week in Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country that is grappling with violence claimed by hard-line Islamic groups.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for last week's attacks, one on a Japanese agricultural worker and the other on an Italian aid worker. The IS claim has been refuted by Bangladesh's government, which blamed the opposition for trying to destabilize the country.

On Monday, 52-year-old pastor Luke Sarker suffered minor injuries when three men aged 25-30 attacked him with a knife at his home in the northwestern district of Pabna, said the area's senior police official, Siddikur Rahman.

Sarker, the pastor of Faith Bible Church, said by telephone that the men had phoned him about two weeks ago saying they wanted to visit him to learn about Christianity.

After they arrived at his home on Monday, the men suddenly attacked him with a knife and tried to slit his throat, Sarker said. But as he shouted, his wife came to his rescue and the men fled. Police later recovered a motorbike from outside his home.

Rahman said that police had no clues yet about the identities of the three men but suspect they could be members of a fundamentalist group.

Meanwhile, police said they questioned four people Monday in connection with Saturday's attack on Japanese agricultural worker Kunio Hoshi, who was shot to death by unidentified assailants in northern Bangladesh.

The Islamic State group issued a statement claiming responsibility for that attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi postings online. The report could not be independently confirmed. The Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the Sept. 28 killing of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.

Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan refuted those claims. The government has blamed the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its key ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, for the fatal attacks, accusing the groups of trying to destabilize the country. A spokesman for the BNP denied the charges.

Bangladesh has been struggling in recent months with a rise in violence claimed by hard-line Islamic groups, banning several that have been blamed for killing four secular bloggers this year.