Law enforcers have found that the three youths who hacked the imam of an Ahmadiyya mosque in Mymensingh Monday night in a suspected militant attack are classmates at a madrasa.
Abdul Ahad Mohammad Ullah, one of the attackers apprehended by locals after the attack, on Tuesday said they were students of Islampur Darus Sunnah Jafria Madrasa in Jamalpur.
Ahad identified the other attackers as Ilias Hossain and Jahirul Islam, reports Bangla Tribune.
Details about the other two attackers could not be known immediately.
Ahad is undergoing treatment at the Mymensingh Medical College Hospital (MMCH) under police custody.
The detainee insisted that they did not belong to any militant group and had attempted to kill the Ahmadiyya imam on their own volition as “he was preaching wrong Islam.”
All previous attacks on religious minorities in Bangladesh were claimed by militant and terrorist groups, mainly banned outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
Imam Mostafizur Rahman, 35, of Khanpur mosque in Ishwarganj was hacked by the three assailants indiscriminately with sharp weapons inside the mosque around 9pm, after the end of Esha prayers.
The attackers tried to flee as locals came to his rescue. Ahad was caught at that time and handed over to the police.
The imam was first taken to the Upazila Health Complex and then shifted to the MMCH as his condition deteriorated. He was later shifted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) in critical condition around 5am on Tuesday.
Jasmine Nahar, resident surgeon of DMCH, said the condition of the imam had not improved as of last night. He was treated at the post-operative ward.
“The imam was hacked on the neck, back, abdomen and his left hand with sharp weapons,” she told the Dhaka Tribune.
Jasmine evaded a direct answer when asked if the attackers were trained.
Hailing from Kalmakanda of Netrokona, Ahad was studying at the madrasa for the last one and a half years. His father is the founder-principal of a female madrasa.
Ahad said he decided to kill the imam three weeks ago after learning how the latter had been leading the Muslims astray and converting them to the Ahmadiyya faith.
He and his friends collected sharp weapons and travelled to Ishwarganj three days ago to execute their plan.
Kalmakanda police on Tuesday morning detained his wife Lutfa Akhter and two brothers – Moin Uddin and Nizam Uddin – for questioning.
Imam Mostafizur hails from Dohanda village under Kahalu upazila in Dinajpur. He had been leading prayers at the Ahmadiyya mosque for the last two years and living with his wife at a nearby cottage.
Police Superintendent Syed Nurul Islam visited him at the hospital around 10:30pm on Monday.
He hoped the two others would be arrested soon, but refused to say anything about the motive of the attack without investigation.
Earlier, members of a new faction of JMB carried out a suicide attack on an Ahmadiyya mosque in Rajshahi’s Baghmara on December 25, 2015. Ten devotees were injured in the bomb attack. International terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility.
The suicide bomber, Md Tarek Aziz alias Musa, was killed in the explosion while Jamal Uddin, who helped Aziz to carry the bomb inside the mosque, was killed in a shoot-out at Godagari of Rajshahi on June 7, 2016, a day after his arrest.
New JMB has carried out most of its attacks with the help of three-man teams.
The Ahmadiyya community people are labelled as anti-Islamic by local Islamist groups including Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Oikyo Jote and Hefazat-e-Islam. Hefazat urged the government to ban Ahmadiyyas in its 13-point demands placed in 2013.
Ahmadiyya supporters and mosques have come under violent attacks in different places across the country over the last few decades.
Thousands of Ahmadiyyas have been killed in Pakistan since a campaign began in 1953 by Jamaat founder Syed Abul A'la Maudoodi, who was later sentenced to death for instigating communal attacks on them.
In Pakistan, Ahmadiyyas were banned in 1974 from calling themselves Muslims and building their mosques in the Islamic Republic. Their places of worship were shut down or desecrated by Islamists.
“It was a well-planned attack aimed at killing Mostafizur,” said Ahmadiyya community’s central leader Ahmed Tafsir Chowdhury.
“Those who cannot stand us have carried out the attack,” he added.
Muezzin of the mosque Aiyub Ali said the imam was an introvert and amicable person. “He used to invite Muslims to join sermons at the mosque.
“But several madrasa teachers and their students of a Dhaka-based madrasa came to the area around two months back, and announced that they will not let the Ahmadiyyas run the mosque,” Aiyub said.