Unidentified criminals slit the throats of six people, including a “pir” and his son, at a house in the capital's Gopibagh yesterday evening.
Lutfar Rahman Faruque, 60, who would claim himself to be a “pir” (spiritual leader), his son Sarwar Islam Faruque, 30, and Lutfar's followers Manjur Alam, 27, Shaheen, 25, Mujibul Sarkar, 25, and Russell, 22, were found dead at Lutfar's rented house on RK Mission Road around 6:45pm.
Disputes between religious sects might have been the reason behind the killings, said Ziaul Hasan, additional director general of Rab.
Lutfar used to describe himself as a follower of Imam Mahdi, and wrote religious books, he said.
Mehedi Hassan, additional deputy commissioner (Wari zone) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told The Daily Star it appears that a gang of 10 armed men committed the murders between 5:45pm and 6:15pm.
It was a planned murder, he said.
The killers, however, spared Lutfar's wife Salma, four other women, two children and Lutfar's relative Golam Mostafa, who were inside the house at that time.
Law enforcers later rescued the eight, whose hands and legs were tied and mouths gagged.
Lutfar lived with his wife, son Sarwar and his wife and their child on the first floor of the four-storey building “Aina”. Lutfar's follower Manju and his wife also lived with them.
Ziaul said they found four of the victims with their hands tied. There were no injury marks in other parts of the victims' bodies except for their necks.
Quoting Lutfar's wife Salma, the Rab official said Lutfar told his wife before the evening prayers that about 10 to 12 people might visit him and asked her to prepare food for them.
They said the Maghrib prayers together in the house.
Ziaul said Salma told him that police had detained Lutfar a couple of years ago for claiming himself to be a follower of Imam Mahdi, believed by some to be one who would one day lead all to the path of truth.
Golam Mostafa, who claimed himself to be Lutfar's relative, told The Daily Star that he was inside the house when the incident happened.
“I was watching television in another room. All of a sudden some armed men entered the room and tied me up,” he said.
Law enforcers later rescued him and took him with them for quizzing.
Shamsuzzaman, who owns a printing press next to the building where the murder took place, told this correspondent that he heard the scream of a woman around 6:15pm.
"We sensed something was wrong and informed the police," he said.
Seven people, six from the ground floor and one from the third floor of the building, have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the murders.
One of the detainees was identified as Chowdhury Zahir Uddin Mohammad.
Shirin, owner of the second-floor flat, said the family rented the single-unit flat three months ago for Tk 24,000 a month.
Neighbours said the family preferred to remain secluded from others and didn't talk much with the neighbours.