US, UK express shock, Australia to withdraw volunteers following Bangladesh mosque attack

November 30, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

By

Sheuli Akter

The United States and United Kingdom have expressed deep shock at the attack on a Shia Mosque in Bangladesh, while the Australian government has decided to withdraw its government funded volunteers from Bangladesh by Dec. 31.

“Deeply saddened by the attack on a Shia mosque while Bangladeshis were at prayer and we offer our condolences to the victim’s family,” US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat said in a twitter statement Friday.

Also on Friday in a separate statement, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Gibson condemned the attack stating “I am appalled at the savage attack on worshippers during prayer time in a mosque near Bogra; nothing can justify such attacks on people expressing their faith or beliefs. I extend my deepest condolences to the victims and their families.”

“This is the latest in a series of violent extremist incidents in Bangladesh. Recent events including in Paris, Mali, and Beirut show that no country is immune from such attacks and reinforces the need for international cooperation to tackle both the immediate threat and the root causes of such extremism,” Gibson said.

However, the Australian government has decided to withdraw its government funded volunteers from Bangladesh by Dec. 31.

“We will withdraw Australian government funded volunteers by 31 December, as it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to undertake their assignments,” according to the latest travel advice issued Friday.

The Australian government has also authorised the dependants of posted Australian staff to return to Australia on a voluntary basis.

The advice, posted on the website of the Australian Foreign Ministry, said that ISIL on November 27 claimed another attack against a Shiite mosque in northern Bangladesh.

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh due to the high threat of terrorist attacks and the uncertain political situation. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible security risks.

There is reliable information to suggest that militants may be planning to target Australian and Western interests in Bangladesh,” the travel advice added.

The notification, in the safety and security section, said that Bangladesh has experienced a number of terrorist incidents in the past and security agencies in Bangladesh continue to arrest people connected to militant and terrorist organisations.

 

Unidentified gunmen on Thursday opened fire at a Shia mosque in Bangladesh’s northwestern Bogra district, some 197 km northwest of the capital Dhaka, leaving one dead and three injured.

The attack took place after police earlier in the day announced that the militant suspected of being a key to planning bombings on Bangladeshi Shias’ Ashura mourning procession gatherings last month has been “killed in shoot-out.”

Two people were killed and more than 100 were injured as three bombs were detonated at Shia gatgerings on Oct. 24 in Dhaka.

IS had claimed responsibility for the bombings, but Bangladesh Police said it was the handiwork of local banned extremist group, JMB, campaigning for establishment of Islamic rule in Bangladesh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheuli Akter

Sheuli Akter, from Bangladesh, is a Special Correspondent and Editor of NsNewsWire, (Bangladesh’s First Press Newswire). She also gained an honourable mention in the first ever World Media Summit WMS Awards for ‘Exemplary News Professionals in Developing Countries’, receiving the award in Beijing in January 2015.

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