by Sean Smith, UCA News
The death of a Christian aid worker in Bangladesh is the first terrorist atrocity to be carried out in the country by Isis, it is believed.
The terror group confirmed that they shot dead Cesare Tavella in Dhaka while he was out jogging in the diplomatic area of the capital.
Local police said that he appeared to have been ambushed by three men who had pulled to the side of the road on a motorcycle. The men fired at Mr Tavella at least three times before fleeing on the bike.
“We think it was a pre-planned killing,” said Mohammad Abdul Ahad, a Dhaka police official.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, a UK group which monitors radical Islamic websites, Isis issued a statement after the killing claiming that a “security detachment” had tracked Mr Tavella through the streets of Dhaka and then killed him using “silenced weapons.” In its statement, Islamic State hinted at more attacks in Bangladesh and said citizens of what it called “the crusader coalition” were not safe, even in the homes of Muslims. The crusader coalition – a thinly veiled reference to the Crusades in the Middle Ages – is a name coined by Isis to represent all Western democracies.
No arrests had been made, and police officials cautioned that they could not immediately confirm that the Islamic State was behind the shooting.
Security concerns for non-Muslims have escalated since 2010 when Bangladesh’s constitution was returned from an Islamic state back into a secular democracy. A spate of killings of atheist bloggers by Muslim fundamentalists has led to intelligence suggesting that Isis was about to make its first inroads into Bangladesh, which has the fourth largest Muslim population in the world.
At least four bloggers have been killed in the last 18 months, the latest being Niladri Chatterjee, 40, who was hacked to death in his home in Dhaka last month.
Cricket Australia are ready to cancel a three-week tour of Bangladesh for the Australian cricket team after security officials received unconfirmed reports that it will be targeted for terror attacks.
The Australian players have already been told to return to their regional teams and are not expecting to have to travel to the troubled region.
The United States and United Kingdom have issued alerts to their citizens living in Bangladesh, warning of further militant attacks and urging them to remain vigilant.
Western embassies in Bangladesh have also restricted their diplomats’ movements amid concern more foreigners might be targeted by Islamic State.
Father Albert Rozario, secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic Bishops’ Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, told ucanews.com: “The murder is strange because Cesare Tavella was not a diplomat. Moreover, the red alerts from the US and UK governments are dangerous signs for the country. “The government should take the matter seriously and check on a possible militant link. It should ensure security for everyone and resist those who want to make Bangladesh an Islamic state,” the priest added.
Mr Tavella, 50, who arrived in Bangladesh in May to run a food security project for the Dutch Protestant development group ICCO Cooperation, had more than 20 years experience in rural development, mostly in Asia.
Source: The Tablet
Additional reporting by UCA News