‘Islamic State’ claims gunning down Italian aid worker, first attack in Bangladesh
Islamic State (IS) Tuesday said it was behind the shooting of an Italian national in Dhaka, according to Site Intelligence Group, a website that tracks online activity of Jihadi organisations, which also provided a screenshot of an IS statement in Arabic related to the incident, agencies report.
If the Taliban’s claim is true, this could be the first attack by this extremist group in Bangladesh.
“We are working on checking the claim by IS,” Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told news agency Ansa in Rome.
Cesare Tavella, in his early 50s working in Dhaka for ICCO, a Netherlands-based church cooperative, was followed by unidentified assailants and shot around 7 pm Monday while he was jogging in the diplomatic enclave in Gulshan, Muntasirul Islam, spokesman for Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said.
ICCO’s manager for administration and human resources in Dhaka, Alo RaniDhali, said Tavella was in the habit of jogging home from his office in Gulshan 1 to his home in Gulshan 2.
He was jogging wearing T-shirt and three-quarter pants on the street close to the High Commission of Pakistan and Bangladesh Bank governor’s residence on Road 90 when he was attacked.
“Three men riding a motorbike shot him and fled,” one witness told reporters.
A local resident, Mohammad Bilal, took Tavella to United Hospital where doctors declared him dead around 7pm.
Bilal said Tavella had been shot first by one assailant and then twice by the other two attackers.
Witnesses said the injured man attempted to outrun his assailants, leaving behind a trail of blood, before collapsing.
Police sources said the victim had sustained two bullet injuries to the abdomen and one bullet injury to the hand. They said there was no evidence he had been robbed, adding that his personal effects had been seized for further investigation.
“It is possibly a planned incident. Because, if it was a mugging they would have taken away his belongings. But they didn’t do it. Everything, including his mobile phone, was left behind,” said former army sergeant Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain, a witness.
Tavella had been serving as program manager of a project focusing on food security and economic development for people living in rural areas in Bangladesh, according to ICCO’s website.
A veterinarian, he had spent extended periods of time traveling around the world giving instruction on how to raise animals, according to Italian media reports. He left for Bangladesh in late August and had a daughter.
Reports indicate he had not spent much time in Italy recently, at least extended periods, and that he last lived in central Italy above Ravenna.
The killing by alleged IS militants has come as a big setback for the government in Bangladesh which has been tackling Islamist groups who aim to make the South Asian nation of 160 million people a sharia-based Islamic state.
The Australian cricket team has delayed its planned departure to Bangladesh after being warned by its government that there was a potential security risk from militants.
The touring side were due to fly from Sydney Monday morning for the three-week tour which includes two test matches.
Meanwhile, the UK government issued an alert for its citizens living in Bangladesh fearing militant attacks. It asked its citizens to remain vigilant in the wake of threat from terrorists.
Bangladesh prides itself on being a mainly moderate Muslim country. But the gruesome killings of a series of atheist bloggers this year rocked the country and sparked a crackdown on local hardline Islamist groups.