Yet another foreigner came under attack by unidentified assailants in Dinajpur yesterday, around one and a half months after two others were shot dead in the capital and Rangpur.
Piero Parolari, 57, an Italian doctor and pastor, was shot in the back of his head near the BRTC bus terminal in Dinajpur town around 8:30am when he was riding a bicycle towards Dinajpur Medical College Hospital, said witnesses.
The physician serves the hospital as a volunteer. The terminal is about 400 yards away from his home on Mirzapur Catholic Church compound.
The victim was flown to Dhaka in the afternoon and admitted to Combined Military Hospital.
Earlier on October 5, pastor Luke Sarkar of a Pabna church survived an attempt on his life by three youths who tried to slit his throat with a knife at his house.
Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella was shot dead in the capital's Gulshan on September 28. Five days later, Japanese national Kunio Hoshi was gunned down in Rangpur.
Following the killings, several countries issued “travel alert” for their citizens living in and visiting Bangladesh.
Yesterday, three assailants on a motorbike approached Piero. The biker in the middle opened fire at the pastor. Within moments, the three fled towards Dinajpur Govt College, according to witnesses.
Piero fell on the road from his bicycle. About 10 minutes later, locals sent him to Dinajpur Medical College Hospital.
Ruhul Amin, superintendent of police in Dinajpur, said cops recovered an empty shell of a bullet and Piero's glasses from the spot. Ten people were detained for questioning, he added.
Livio Prete, an Italian living in Dinajpur, said he and Piero came to Bangladesh three decades ago.
“Panic gripped me following the attack on Piero. I don't know what has gone wrong here,” he told The Daily Star.
Sebastian Tudu, a bishop at a Dinajpur church, said Piero works at his church as a pastor. He had no enmity with anyone. “I've no idea about why he was shot. We are really shocked at this incident.”
Piero also serves St Vincent Missionary Hospital in Dinajpur and a local catholic mission called Parish Suihari, added Tudu.
Zillur Rahman, head of the surgery department at the Dinajpur hospital, said a bullet hit Piero's head. His eyelids were also badly bruised after he fell on the road.
SP Ruhul said law enforcers stepped up security in the town following the incident. Members of Border Guard Bangladesh were deployed in the town in the afternoon, he added.
Preparation for filing a case with Kotowali Police Station was underway at 9:00pm yesterday.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the attackers of Piero might have a different intention.
The law enforcement agencies were looking into the incident, he told newsmen at his office, reports UNB.
Responding to a query from a journalist, the minister said, “We provided him [Piero] with security, but it was withdrawn upon his request.”
Bangladesh Christian Association in a statement condemned the attack on Piero.
Our correspondent from Dinajpur contributed to this report.