Dhaka: Seven members of an outlawed Bangladeshi Islamist group have been charged with the attempted murder of an Italian priest who was wounded in a shooting last year, police said Monday.
The charges come as Bangladesh reels from the killing of 20 hostages — including nine Italians — over the weekend at an upmarket cafe in the capital Dhaka.
The priest Piero Parolari, who is also a doctor, was shot by unidentified gunmen in the northern Dinajpur district last November.
The Islamic State group said it was responsible for the attack — a claim promptly rejected by the government and police.
Police later arrested four suspected members of the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), with two allegedly confessing their roles in the attack.
Police on Sunday pressed charges against seven JMB followers for the attack, recommending that they be given death sentences if found guilty.
Three of those charged remain on the run, including a student at a private university whose father is a Bangladeshi-origin Canadian citizen.
“All seven who are charged are JMB members. Two of them told a court as to how they planned the attack and who have supplied them weapons,” Inspector Bazlur Rahman, who is leading the investigation, told AFP.
The government and police say homegrown extremists are responsible for the deaths of some 80 secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities killed over the last three years.
Police have also blamed the JMB for the killings during the siege in the heart of Dhaka`s diplomatic zone which came to an end on Saturday morning.
They say the deaths are part of a plot to destabilise the country, and have blamed the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist ally.
Last month Dhaka launched a nationwide crackdown on local jihadist groups, arresting more than 11,000 people, under pressure to act on the spate of killings.
But many rights groups allege the arrests were arbitrary or were a way to silence political opponents of the government.
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