An elderly woman believed by followers to be a Sufi mystic has been found with her throat slit in Bangladesh, police said Monday, amid a wave of religiously motivated attacks.
The body of 72-year-old Nurjahan Begum was found in her shanty home in the capital Dhaka late Sunday, local police chief Faruqul Alam told AFP.
“Her throat was slit,” he said.
The woman was considered a “pir”, or Sufi leader, by her followers who built her a home and donated food and cash, the English-language Daily Star newspaper reported.
But police said she was not a leader of the mystical Islamic sect but a mentally unstable woman, attracting followers who believed she had supernatural powers.
Fourteen Sufi leaders have been found with their throats slit in Bangladesh since 2013, with police blaming homegrown Islamist extremists.
Hardliners consider Sufism as heresy and have targeted its leaders.
In one of the worst cases a Sufi cleric, his son and four followers were found with their throats cut at their Dhaka home.
The Muslim-majority country of 160 million has been reeling from a wave of attacks on foreigners, rights activists and members of religious minorities.
Many of those have been claimed by the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s secular government has blamed local militants, denying that international jihadists have gained a foothold.
Security forces launched a crackdown on Islamist extremists following a deadly siege at a cafe last July when 22 people, mostly foreign hostages, were killed.
Since then they have killed around 50 Islamist extremists, including most of the alleged leadership of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a local group founded by Afghan-trained jihadists.
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