10/14/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Five Muslims arrested over attempts to slit Protestant pastor’s throat

by Sumon Corraya
They are members of an outlawed Islamist group Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh. Among them are the three perpetrators of an attack on a pastor. Local police chief: "The Islamic fundamentalists are trying to destabilize the country and to pressure the government." Officers deployed to protect churches during Sunday Mass.

Pabna (AsiaNews) - Police in Pabna have arrested five Muslims involved in the attempted murder of Pastor Luke Sarkar, assaulted last week while he was at home, near the police station of Ishwardi, about 200 km from the capital of Bangladesh .

Those arrested included the three perpetrators. Alamgir Kabir, superintendent of the local police, reports that men are part of the outlawed Islamist group Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which is attempting to destabilize the country and to pressure the government in Dhaka.

The detainees have already confessed (see photo). Rakibul Islam Rabbi, 25, is one of the three attackers who approached the pastor, pulled out a knife and tried to cut his throat on October 5 last. The man confessed to having fled with the other two accomplices - Rabik and Shakil - when Sarkar started screaming, calling the attention of his wife and relatives.

The criminals said that in the past were part of two other Islamic fundamentalist groups banned by the government, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islami Chhatra Shibir (the youth wing of the first), before being recruited by the JMB.

They revealed that for about a year and a half the radical group has been trying to restore operations in the district and its members meet three times a week under the leadership of the regional chief Rakibul Islam. During these meetings, they decided to attack the pastor as a demonstrative act.

For years activists and intellectuals critical of radical Islam are being targeted in the Asian country. Recently fundamentalists have killed two foreigners: the Italian volunteer Cesare Tavellaand Japanese Hoshi Kunio, both engaged in agricultural projects for the development of Bangladesh.

Religious minorities, especially Christians, fear more attacks. Local police are deploying agents in defense of the churches during Sunday Mass. Fr. Rozario Uttom, assistant parish priest at the parish of Mothurapur in Pabna, told AsiaNews: "The police is here with us to guarantee our security. We are happy to see that the local police is honest. "

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