Asia-Pacific

Italian shot in latest attack on foreigners in Bangladesh

Members of Bangladeshi police and detective branch stand by the site where Italian citizen Cesare Tavella was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Source: AAP

Unidentified gunmen have shot and wounded an Italian man in northern Bangladesh in the latest attack on foreigners that have been blamed on hardline Islamists, according to police.

"Riding a motorcycle, unidentified attackers shot an Italian near the Dinajpur bus station in the morning," police inspector Robiul Alam told the AFP news agency. 

He said the man was "seriously injured".

Last month, Bangladeshi police have arrested four people in connection with the killing of an Italian aid worker who was shot dead in September in the first attack in the country claimed by Islamic State militants.

Cesare Tavella, 50, was shot in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter by three gunmen on a motorcycle on Sept. 28. Attacks on foreigners are rare in Bangladesh, despite a rising tide of Islamist violence over the past year that has seen four online critics of religious militancy hacked to death, among them a U.S. citizen of Bangladesh origin.

Days after Tavella was shot, a Japanese man was killed. Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks. The government has rejected the Islamic State claim and blamed the growing violence on political opponents.

The four arrested for the attack on Tavella were caught in different parts of the capital overnight and police also recovered a motorcycle that they said was used in the killing.

"Three directly took part in the killing mission and the other one supplied the motorcycle," city police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told a news conference as the suspects were produced before the media.

He said the suspects had said they said they had been hired to kill a "white foreigner" and Tavella was not a specific target.

The motive for the killing was to put the government under pressure by showing the country was not safe for the foreigners, he said.

The suspects did not speak to reporters.

Islamic state also claimed responsibility for a weekend bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Dhaka that killed one person and wounded dozens.

Attacks on the Shi'ite minority have been rare in Sunni-majority Bangladesh, but Sunni militant groups have become more active.

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