THE Islamist extremist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for the killing of a Japanese man in Bangladesh, the second fatal attack on a foreign citizen in the South Asian nation in less than a week.
Unidentified assailants shot and killed Hoshi Kunio, a 65-year-old Japanese man, on Saturday in a village in the northern district of Rangpur, said Rezaul Karim, a local police officer. They fled the scene on a motorbike, he said.
A statement about the attack believed to be from ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, was circulated by the militant group’s supporters on Twitter. It said its members had hunted down the citizen of one of its enemies and killed him in Rangpur.
“The series of security operations against citizens of the Crusaders alliance states will continue,” the statement said.
ISIS had already claimed responsibility for the killing of an Italian aid worker who was gunned down while jogging through the diplomatic zone of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.
Authorities are still investigating both cases. The Italian Embassy in Dhaka said last week it was still too early to say whether the killing of its citizen was a crime or a terrorist attack.
Series of killings by extremists
Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the two killings were similar in type. But police investigators have yet to find any clear leads.
Kunio was attacked on his way to a farming project he ran in Kaunia, a subdistrict of Rangpur about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Dhaka. He was cultivating special types of grass at the project, according to local residents and officials.
He was reported to have been living in the area for a long time, running the farming project on leased land.
Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim nation, has experience a series of violent acts by extremists this year, but the killing of the Italian aid worker was the first to be claimed by ISIS. The Sunni Muslim militant group, which holds territory in Iraq and Syria, has accumulated affiliates and followers around the globe.
Fundamentalists in Bangladesh have previously killed several secular bloggers using machetes, knives and meat cleavers in retaliation for posts that they deemed insulting to Islam.
Foreign governments warn travelers
After Saturday’s killing, Japan and South Korea asked their citizens in Bangladesh to take precautionary measures before any travel in the country.
Italy had already issued a warning to its citizens to avoid places frequented by foreigners after the aid worker’s killing. Other Western nations have also advised travelers to exercise caution.
The Australian cricket team on Thursday announced that it wasindefinitely postponing its planned tour of Bangladesh because of security concerns.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Saturday she believed the killings of the two foreigners were “preplanned” and “designed to destabilize the country and tarnish the country’s image abroad.” (Journalist Farid Ahmed reported from Dhaka, and CNN’s Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong. CNN’s Yousuf Basil contributed to this report)
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