Christian Shopkeeper Murdered in Bangladesh, IS Claims Responsibility

Published 08 June 2016  |  
Mr. Sunil Gomes' wife comforted her son. On the inset is the photo of Mr. Gomes.

A Christian man was hacked to death near a church in Bangladesh's Natore district by unidentified assailants, shortly after Sunday prayers on June 5.

Sunil Gomes, 60, was a grocery seller in Bonpara village which has a predominantly Christian population, and is also one of the oldest Christian neighbourhoods in Bangladesh. He was found murdered inside his shop at around 8:30 am.

US-based SITE intelligence group tweeted that ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder via its Amaq news agency. Though the global terror network laid claims to similar attacks in the country in the past, but government says that these were carried out by home-grown groups.

Gomes' daughter told BD News that he previously used to work as a gardener at the church, and his brother was a priest. His family was clueless about the motives of the murder, as they said he had no enmity with anyone he could possibly have come in contact with.

Father Bikash Hubert Rebeiro of Bonpara Catholic church said that Gomes was "known for his humility."

"He attended Sunday prayers at my church and then went to his grocery store. The next thing we know he was hacked to death," Rebeiro was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "I can't imagine how anyone can kill such an innocent man."

Three months ago, armed militants murdered 65-year-old Hossain Ali in northern Bangladesh. He had converted to Christianity in 1999, and since then actively evangelized in the region.

On March 22, three militants attacked him with sharp weapons, killing him on the spot. Islamic State had taken responsibility for the murder, saying that it was a "lesson to others."

Open Doors USA reports that Ali faced severe persecution from his family after his conversion. His wife tied him up for three days in their house and his relatives pressured him, but he never recanted his faith. He was even denied salary for a few months by government health department, where he worked. Eventually, his family also accepted Christ after witnessing him.

In October last year, extremists attempted to slit the throat of a Christian pastor in Pabna district. Luke Sarkar (52) preached at Faith Bible Church in Ishwardi. Two people who had expressed their interest in Christianity months earlier came to his house, pretending to know more about the religion, but attacked him in the middle of their conversation.

The assailants fled after his family rushed to the spot, and neighbours came to his rescue.

Police arrested five members of banned Jamaat-ul Mujahideen for the attempted murder.

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