Pabna (AsiaNews) – Rev Luke Sarkar, who heads a Protestant congregation, was attacked at home and stabbed by three criminals, not far the Ishwardi police station in Pabna district, about 200 km from the capital of Bangladesh.
Police have not yet arrested the culprits, who fled when the victim began screaming, and attracted the attention of his wife and relatives. However, suspicions have fallen on Muslim extremists, who have been on a terror binge in recent days across the country.
Luke Sarkar, a 50-year-old homeopath, heads the ‘Faith Bible Church of God’. He said that about two weeks ago he received a call from two Muslims, who told him that they wanted to learn about the Gospel. "We want to hear the Gospel from you,” they apparently told him. “We want to meet you."
This morning, three men approached him to ask him some questions. When they saw the Gospel and other books, they suddenly pulled out a knife and tried to cut his throat.
However, the three fled when Sarkar started shouting, attracting the attention of family members. In their haste, the attackers abandoned the motorcycle with which they had come to the house.
"Rev Luke Sarkar was treated at the hospital in Pabna and returned home safely,” local police said. “We believe he was attacked by members of some extremist group.”
"We are very concerned about the attack,” said Nirmal Rozario, general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, a Christian activist group.
“In the last two weeks, radical Muslims have killed two foreigners,” he told AsiaNews. “We Christians are vulnerable in this country, as are other Muslim minorities. We can be attacked at any moment."
Activists and intellectuals who criticise radical Muslims have also been targeted in recent years.
The latest attack against the Christian clergyman closely resembles the murder of two humanitarian workers, 50-year-old Italian humanitarian worker Cesare Tavella, who was killed in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter whilst out jogging, and Hoshi Kunio, a 66-year-old Japanese, who was shot dead by three men on a motorcycle.
The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for both murders, an assertion rejected by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who said IS was not operating in Bangladesh.
In view of the situation, Rozario wants action. "I call on the government in Dhaka to ensure security in all churches and for all Christians in Bangladesh,” he said. “The police must arrest the three assailants and impose an exemplary punishment.”