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Second Hindu citizen killed in a week in Bangladesh

Suspected Islamists have hacked another Hindu citizen to death, the latest in a spate of deadly attacks on Bangladesh's minorities. Meanwhile, authorities claim they now know who is killing activists and non-Muslims.

Nitya Ranjan Pandey, a 62-year-old Hindu monastery worker, was killed with machetes in the northwestern district of Pabna when he was taking an early morning stroll on Friday.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Pandey's death, but killing with machetes has been a hallmark of Bangladeshi Islamists.

"As a diabetic, everyday he [Pandey] walked early in the morning. Today, as he was walking, several attackers hacked him in the neck… He died on the spot," local police station chief Abdullah Al-Hasan told the AFP news agency.

"He had been working at the monastery for around 40 years. In recent years, he was the head of its office staff," Al-Hasan added.

On Tuesday, another Hindu priest, Ananda Gopal Ganguly, was found dead near his home in the village of Noldanga in western Bangladesh. Ganguly's head was nearly severed from his body.

Brutal killings

Bangladesh has been reeling from a series of brutal murders of liberals, bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities by Islamist militants.

Some 40 people have been killed in the majority Muslim country by jihadis over the past three years, police believe. In recent weeks attacks claimed the lives of a Hindu trader, a homeopathic doctor and a Buddhist monk.

On Sunday, the wife of a top police official known for leading raids against Islamist militants in Bangladesh was murdered in the coastal city of Chittagong.

In a separate attack on the same day, a Christian man was hacked to death. Sunil Gomes was found by family members, following the attack on his grocery store close to a church and a Christian neighborhood.

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Dhaka blogger killings threaten free speech

Killers 'identified'

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi police have killed five militants in a nationwide crackdown on Islamists. The dead included two "high-ranking" members of the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) group, the police said.

The authorities also believe they now know who is behind the attacks on secular activists and religious minorities.

"The New York Times" quoted Monirul Islam, chief of the Bangladeshi police's counterterrorism unit, as claiming the killings are organized by two militant Islamic groups that have expanded their operations in the South Asian country.

He said the goal of these groups is to impose Islamic law on a largely secular country.

"There is a political aspect to a struggle between those who are promoting political Islam to turn Bangladesh into a fundamentalist, religious state and the secular political forces. The more radical branches of the Islamic organizations are gaining strength by the day," Imran Sarker, head of Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, told DW.

Authorities say they have identified the top leadership of the two groups, and that they are preparing to arrest them.

Government's 'inaction'

However, activist Golam Rabby Chowdhury believes Sheikh Hasina's government hasn't done much to stop the killings of bloggers and secular activists.

"The attacks on humanist and secular writers and activists have been increasing in the country. Unfortunately, the government's inaction is emboldening Islamists to attack bloggers," Chowdhury said.

Experts have said the terror groups "Islamic State" (IS) and al Qaeda are expanding their operations in the South Asian country.

Siegfried O. Wolf, a researcher at the University of Heidelberg's South Asia Institute, told DW the Bangladeshi government lacked a proper strategy to deal with the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists.

"At the moment, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina does not classify, at least publicly, the IS as a risk. It needs to come up with a clear and comprehensive assessment of the threat posed by the militant group and the way it is gaining strength in the country," O. Wolf said.

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