In Bangladesh, attacks by violent extremists targeting intellectuals, secular writers, members of religious minority groups and activists continue at an alarming growth rate.
Most recently, on June 6, a Hindu priest was killed in western Bangladesh as he rode his bicycle to a prayer service. On June 5, a local Christian was knifed to death after Sunday prayers in northwest Bangladesh in an attack claimed by the Islamic State. Police said unidentified attackers murdered the 65-year-old in the village of Bonpara, home to one of the oldest Christian communities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. “Sunil Gomes was hacked to death at his grocery store just near a church at Bonpara village,” said Shafiqul Islam, deputy police chief of Natore district.
The killing came hours after the wife of a senior anti-terrorism police officer was murdered in the southeastern city of Chittagong. Police suspect members of a banned local militant group are responsible. Three unidentified men stabbed and then shot Mahmuda Khanam Mitu in the head as she walked her son to a school bus stop near her home, according to Chittagong authorities. Ms. Mitu was the wife of Babul Akter, who led several operations against the banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh militant group in Chittagong in recent months.
Such attacks have left more than 40 people dead in three years. Among those attacked are university professors, secular bloggers, human rights activists, foreigners, and members of religious minorities including Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus.
Bangladesh has a history as a moderate, tolerant, inclusive society that values the diversity of its people, culture, and religions, and such attacks fundamentally seeks to undermine all that Bangladesh stands for and all that the Bangladeshi people have strived to bring about in recent years.
The United States condemns the brutal murders of innocent people in Bangladesh. No one should have to pay with their life because of something they say or believe. The United States will continue to support all those who work on behalf of tolerance and human rights in Bangladesh and around the world.