Bangladesh: Suspected Islamists kill Sufi Muslim leader in Rajshahi

A local Sufi Muslim leader has been killed in Bangladesh in a suspected Islamic extremist killing.

A local Sufi Muslim leader has been hacked to death in Bangladesh in a suspected attack by the Islamic extremists.

Police said the body of the 65-year-old, Mohammad Shahidullah, was found by villagers in a pool of blood in a mango grove in Rajshahi, a town located in the north of Bangladesh.

His family members have said Shahidullah was missing after he left home on Friday morning.

This murder comes amidst the rising concern over the rise in violence against religious minorities in Bangladesh.

"He was not a famous Sufi. But there could be a possibility that he was killed by extremist militants," Rajshahi district police chief Nisharul Arif told AFP.

In the last few years, a wide range of people have been attacked in Bangladesh including secularists, bloggers and academics. More than 20 people killed by Islamic militant groups are members of religious minorities, although this is believed to be the first attack on a Sufi Muslim.

In the past five weeks, two gay activists, a liberal professor, an atheist activist and a Hindu tailor were hacked to death by suspected extremist militants.

Sufism is very popular in rural Bangladesh but considered irregular because of its mysticism by many of the country's majority Sunni Muslims. The police officer said the killing of the self-proclaimed Sufi master was "similar" to a recent murders of religious minorities in the country.

"He was slaughtered from his neck and there are also some deep gashes in his throat," Abdur Razzak, a local police official told AFP, adding that "he had scores of followers in a nearby district".

Some of the attacks in the recent past have been claimed by the Islamic State group and a local branch of Al-Qaeda. However, Dhaka denies the transnational groups have any presence in the country.

The Bangladeshi government said that they have done enough to stop the killings and has blamed all the attacks on opposition parties or local Islamist groups. The opposition parties have denied such claims and the government has faced strong criticisms for not being able to prevent the violence or bring perpetrators to justice.