3 Sufi Muslims attacked in Bangladesh; critical

3 Sufi Muslims attacked in Bangladesh; critical

3 Sufi Muslims attacked in Bangladesh; critical

Three elderly Sufi Muslims, including two women, were today attacked in their sleep by unidentified machete-wielding men in western Bangladesh's border town with India and suffered critical injuries in the latest in a spate of deadly attacks on religious minorities in the Muslim- majority nation.

Eight to 10 assailants attacked several 'bauls' (mystic singers) around midnight with sharp weapons and iron rods at their 'Akhra' (residing place) at Ektarpur village, some 240 kms from here, local media reported.

Rashida Khatun, 60, Abdur Rahim, 65, and his wife Bulu Begum, 50, were injured and are now undergoing treatment at a local health complex.

All the three injured are in critical state, The Daily Star quoted Dr Anisur Rahman, a doctor of Chuadanga Sadar Hospital, as saying.

The other Bauls, however, managed to flee the spot, said Mukul Hossein, landlord of the Akhra.

"It could not be known who or why they attacked the Bauls," Hossein said.

Jibannagar Police Station Officer-in-Charge Humayun Kabir confirmed the facts.

The couple hails from Kushtia, while the woman from Jhenaidah. They had come to the village to join a congregation of Bauls.

Victim Bulu Begum told reporters that seven to eight men barged into the Akhra and started beating them with iron rods. "Bauls from different areas come to this Akhra. We also went there."

She said only three of them were there during the attack, and that they could not identify the attackers. The locals heard them scream and rushed them to the hospital.

All of them sustained injuries inflicted by iron rods, doctor Masud Rana was quoted as saying by bdnews.com.

"We have found some slash wounds on Rahim's head," he said, adding Rashida has injuries on the face and leg, and the third victim had been referred to Rajshahi as her leg injuries seemed critical.

An investigation is on into the incident, which comes over two months after a 65-year-old Muslim Sufi preacher was hacked to death in central Bangladesh, in an attack that bore the hallmark of previous murders of intellectuals, bloggers and minorities by Islamists in the country.

There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh in recent weeks especially targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners.