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Hindu temple volunteer slain in Bangladesh

Another Hindu man has been killed by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh. Attackers hacked to death a temple volunteer as he gathered flowers outside a temple in the west of the country.

Shyamonando Das, who helped conduct prayers at the Radhamadan Gopal Bigraha Math in Jhenaidah district, was killed by three unknown assailants Friday as he was walking on a highway by his temple, police said. He died in a local hospital.

"He was preparing morning prayers with flowers at the temple early in the morning and that time three young people came by [on] a motorbike and killed him with machetes and fled away," said Mahbubur Rahman, the chief of Jhenaidah district administration.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities gave different ages for the man - between 45 and 50 - and said it bore hallmarks of recent murders of religious minorities by suspected homegrown Islamist militants. They said there was no other apparent motive.

"He was an itinerant temple volunteer who travels from one temple to another to serve the Hindu devotees," local police chief inspector Hasan Hafizur Rahman told the AFP news agency. "He came to this temple only yesterday."

A disturbing pattern of targeted killings

Bangladesch Protest Hindu-Minderheit in Dhaka

Hindus in Dhaka staged a protest in May against the killings

A 70-year-old Hindu priest, Ananda Gopal Ganguly, was

hacked to death last month in a rice paddy field

in the same district, about 300 kilomeers (188 miles) southwest of the capital Dhaka.

Bangladesh - nominally a secular country but with a 90-percent Sunni Muslim majority population - is reeling from

a wave of murders

of liberal activists, members of minority Muslim sects and other religious groups.

Roughly 50 people have been killed in such attacks in the past three years, more than a dozen of them since April.

Many of the recent attacks have been claimed by the self-styled "Islamic State" organization or a local offshoot of al Qaeda. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has however blamed homegrown Islamists for the attacks.

The government has

arrested thousands in a crackdown on Islamic groups

. But critics say the arrests are

aimed at opposition parties

and have done little to improve public safety.

jar/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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