Japanese man shot dead in Bangladesh; Islamic State link probed

Reuters, AFP-JIJI

A Japanese citizen was shot dead by gunmen in a northern Bangladesh town Saturday, police said, days after an Italian aid worker was murdered in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Kunio Hoshi, 65, was attacked by unidentified assailants around 10 a.m. on a visit to Kownia, in the district of Rangpur, 335 km north of the capital, Dhaka, and died on his way to hospital, police said.

“He was shot on his chest and also in his hand and leg,” Rezaul Karim, the officer in charge of the local police station, told reporters.

Police also said Hoshi was traveling to the town on a cycle rickshaw when his vehicle was stopped by three men riding on a motorcycle.

“They shot him there and drove away. His body has been brought to the morgue of Rangpur Medical College,” a police officer said, adding that the man was shot at close range.

An official with the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka said she was trying to ascertain the details of the incident involving Hoshi, who was born in Bangladesh.

Local reports said he was involved in “philanthropic activities” and an “agriculture project.”

The incident came less than a week after an Italian aid worker was shot dead near Dhaka’s diplomatic area.

Cesare Tavella, an Italian citizen working in Bangladesh on a food security project, was shot dead Monday in a similar manner.

“This killing was also carried by three masked men who came by motorcycle and used a pistol, so the motives may be same,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said. “We take both the killings seriously.”

“We have detained four persons and are trying to know the motive for the killing,” said Farukh Hossain, a police superintendent in the Rangpur district.

The government has sought to calm escalating security fears in the country after the attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, describing it as an “isolated incident.”

International schools closed temporarily and Western embassies restricted their diplomats’ movements, while Australia’s cricket team canceled a planned tour of the country over security concerns.

Bangladesh prides itself on being a moderate Muslim country. But the gruesome killings of a series of atheist bloggers this year has rocked the country and sparked a crackdown on local hard-line Islamist groups.