Detectives on Monday afternoon arrested one of the attackers who hacked the imam of an Ahmadiyya mosque with bladed weapons in Mymensingh on the night of May 8.
Mymensigh Detective Branch Officer-in-Charge (OC) Imarat Gazi said attacker Jahirul Islam was arrested from Sylhet city.
Jahirul’s involvement in the attack came to light after Abdul Ahad Mohammad Ullah, another attacker apprehended by locals after the attack, identified him during preliminary interrogation.
“A press conference in this regard will be held 11am tomorrow [Tuesday] at the Mymensigh superintendent of police’s office,” the OC confirmed.
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Imam Mostafizur Rahman, 35, of Khanpur mosque in Ishwarganj was hacked indiscriminately with sharp weapons by three assailants inside the mosque around 9pm, after the end of Esha prayers.
The third attacker, Ilias Hossain, is still on the run, according to police.
Members of the Ahmadiyya community are labelled as anti-Islamic by local Islamist groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Oikya Jote and Hefazat-e-Islam. Hefazat urged the government to ban Ahmadiyyas in its 13-point demands placed in 2013.
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Ahmadiyya supporters and mosques have faced violent attacks in different locations across the country over the last few decades.
Though Ahad, the first detainee from the spot, insisted that the trio did not belong to any militant group and had attempted to kill the Ahmadiyya imam of their own volition as “he was preaching wrong Islam,” all previous attacks on religious minorities in Bangladesh were claimed by militant and terrorist groups, primarily banned outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
New JMB has carried out most of its attacks through the use of three-man teams.
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On December 25, 2015, members of a new faction of JMB carried out a suicide attack on an Ahmadiyya mosque in Rajshahi’s Baghmara. Ten devotees were injured in the bomb attack. International terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Thousands of Ahmadiyyas have been killed in Pakistan since a campaign by Jamaat founder Syed Abul A’la Maudoodi, who was later sentenced to death for instigating communal attacks, began in 1953.
In Pakistan, Ahmadiyyas were banned from calling themselves Muslims and building their mosques in 1974. Their places of worship were shut down or desecrated by Islamists.