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Islamic State Claims Latest Attack in Bangladesh

Locals surround the body of a Hindu holy man after assailants hacked him to death in Pabna, 275 kilometres (170 miles) from Dhaka, June 10, 2016.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the hacking death of a Hindu monastery worker in Bangladesh early Friday, according to a U.S. group that monitors militant activity online.

The death of Nityaranjan Pande, 62, was the latest in a string of brutal attacks against religious minorities throughout the country, police said. Pande was walking in the northwestern district of Pabna when unidentified hackers attacked and killed him.

Local police station chief Abdullah Al-Hasan told the French news agency AFP that Pande had worked at the monastery for about 40 years.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news service, the U.S-based Site Intelligence Group reported Saturday.

More than 40 people have been killed in similar attacks over the past three years, and the violence has escalated in the past few months.

Several attacks in a week

In the past week a Christian shopkeeper and a Hindu priest were hacked to death, and the wife of an anti-terrorism officer was shot and killed. IS claimed responsibility for those attacks as well.

Gay-rights activists, liberal professors and secular bloggers have also been among the victims of these killings.

Three Islamist militants were reportedly killed in a separate clash with police in the capital of Dhaka Tuesday, as national forces attempt to crack down on the militants blamed for these attacks.

Islamic State and an al-Qaida faction have claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, but Bangladesh authorities continue to insist there are no foreign terror groups operating in the country. Instead, officials have blamed local militants or the political opposition.

Though officially a secular country, around 90 percent of Bangladeshis are Muslim.