Bangladesh police said Monday they had arrested five Islamists for the attempted murder of a Christian pastor whose throat was slashed in the latest of a string of attacks blamed on religious extremists.
The five members of the outlawed Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) group have been detained on suspicion of planning or carrying out last week’s attack on Baptist pastor Luke Sarker in the town of Iswardi.
One of those arrested was suspected of having attacked Sarker before making his getaway on the back of a motorbike, while the other four were believed to have been involved in plotting the attack.
“They carried out the attack to draw international attention and destabilise the country,” district police chief Alamgir Kabir told AFP.
Sarker, who runs a church in the mainly Muslim northwestern town, was attacked on October 5 while trying to respond to a question about Christianity.
He was rushed to hospital but medical officials say he is now recovering.
The attack came only days after gunmen shot dead an Italian aid worker and a Japanese farmer. The Islamic State organisation has claimed responsibility for both of those killings.
Attacks on Christians, who make up less than one percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million people, are rare although 10 people were killed in 2001 when Islamists bombed a church in the southern district of Gopalganj.
Experts say Islamist militants pose a growing danger in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, warning that a long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government.
The assassination of four atheist bloggers since the turn of the year undermines the government’s efforts to play down the threat posed by hardliners, experts say.
The JMB killed 28 people in 2005 when they carried out a series of bomb attacks on courts. While its top leaders were subsequently executed for the bombings, police say the JMB is now regrouping.
Mueller testimony ‘is going to be a devastating day for the president’: former White House lawyer
The eyes of the nation will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when former special counsel Robert Mueller publicly testifies before Congress.
Mueller, who was a federal prosecutor, top DOJ official, and director of the FBI before serving as special counsel, is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning and the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
"As Democrats prepare for the arrival of special counsel Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill next week, their plans for his day of wall-to-wall testimony is becoming clearer: if Donald Trump were anyone but the president, he would be charged with the crimes Mueller uncovered," MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace reported on Friday.
WATCH: Trump blurts out a massive lie about Dem congresswomen — after being asked about Melania
President Donald Trump on Friday falsely accused Democratic congresswomen of using the phrase "evil Jews."
Trump ignited a firestorm over the weekend after saying that the congresswomen of color should "go back" to their countries of origin. At a rally on Wednesday, his supporters chanted "send her back" after Trump attacked one of them, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
But on Friday, Trump insisted the congresswomen were the real racists.
"You know what is racist to me? When somebody goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country, that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate -- that to me is really a very dangerous thing," Trump said.
Iran says it has seized British oil tanker
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf after Britain seized an Iranian vessel earlier this month, further raising tensions along a vital international oil shipping route.
Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero after the tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia, suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.
The Revolutionary Guards said they seized the tanker at the request of Iranian maritime authorities for "not following international maritime regulations," state television reported.