Bangladesh: Buddhist leader killed in Bandarban

by Sanjoy Kumar Barua, The Daily Star, July 2, 2016

Dhakka, Bangladesh -- A Buddhist farmer was hacked to death in Bandarban on Thursday night, less than two months after a Buddhist monk was killed in the district in a similar fashion.

Victim Mong Shwe Lung Marma, 55, was also vice president of ward 7 Awami league under Baishari union.

Islamic State fighters claimed responsibility for the murder, according to a tweet last night by Rita Katz, director of US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activities of terror groups.

“#ISIS' #AmaqAgency reported: Yesterday "Islamic State fighters assassinated the leader of a Buddhist party in #Bandarban area" in #Bangladesh,” the tweet read.

There was no official version about the suspects and their motives, and The Daily Star could not independently verify the IS claim.

Mong died on the spot after unknown assailants attacked him with a machete around 9:45pm when he was returning from Baishari Bazar to his home in Dabangkhali Marma Para area, said Abul Khair, officer-in-charge of Naikkhangchhari Police Station.  

This attack has similarities with those carried out by suspected militants in recent months, the OC said.

The victim was found with deep gashes in the neck and the head, said locals.

The spot of the killing is just four kilometres from where the Buddhist monk was murdered on May 14 by suspected militants, said Md Alam, chairman of Baishari union parishad.

Police detained three people on suspicion in connection with that killing. But there has not been further progress in the investigation.

Alam said people were terrified as two similar murders have taken place in less than two months.

“Mong was known to locals as a kind-hearted and generous person ... We cannot accept this brutal killing of such a wonderful person,” he said.

“We are scared to go out of our homes after seeing two gruesome murders in our area,” said Mong Thoai Ching Marma, a senior resident there.

Victim's son Usha Thoai Marma said his father had no enmity with anyone. “My father was a simple farmer … locals considered him a decent man.”

Meanwhile, additional forces have been deployed in the area following the killing, police said.

The victim's body has been sent to Bandarban Sadar Hospital for an autopsy and a case filled in this connection.

“We are investigating the incident keeping in mind any possible militant links and land disputes, among other things,” said Mizanur Rahman, superintendent of Bandarban police.