Unidentified attackers have hacked to death a 62-year-old Hindu monastery worker in Bangladesh, police say, the latest in a series of such attacks on religious minorities in the mainly Muslim country.

Friday's killing of Nityaranjan Pande, in the northwestern district of Pabna, follows the murder of a Hindu priest on Tuesday.

"As he was walking, several attackers hacked him in the neck ... He died on the spot," Abdullah Al-Hasan, the local police station chief, told AFP news agency.

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"As a diabetic, he used to take a walk early in the morning.

"He had been working at the monastery for around 40 years.

"In recent years he was the head of its office [Shri Shri Thakur Anukulchandra Ashram] staff."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Analysts say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of religious hate crimes.

The secular government of Sheikh Hasina blames the growing violence on its political opponents, aiming to create chaos and prevent war crimes trials for incidents that date back to 1971 from going ahead.

The opposition parties deny the accusations.

In the past four days, Bangladesh police have shot dead five suspected attackers, as they step up their hunt for those who have killed at least 30 people in the past 16 months. 

 

Victims of the attacks have included secular bloggers, gay rights activists and followers of minority religions.

Many of the latest attacks have been claimed either by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group or by a South Asian branch of al-Qaeda.

But two groups in particular have been been identified by the authorities as leading the fight against secularism: Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team.

While both are considered possible suspects in the recent killings, neither has been alleged to have direct links to al-Qaeda and ISIL.

At least 10 Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh members have been killed in gun battles since November after the killing of two foreigners, according to the police.

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The group had laid low since six of its leaders were hanged in 2007 for attacks that included 500 bomb explosions on a single day in 2005.

Subsequent suicide attacks on courts killed 25 people and wounded hundreds.

Last month, Bangladesh police announced a 1.8m taka ($23,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of six members of Ansarullah Bangla Team, the second outlawed group they believe is behind the violence.

Around 90 percent of Bangladesh's 160 million-strong population is Muslim, with eight percent Hindu.

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Source: Agencies