Reuters International

By Ruma Paul

DHAKA (Reuters) - Machete-wielding assailants hacked to death a village doctor and wounded a university teacher in Bangladesh on Friday, in what police suspected was the latest in a series attacks by Islamists in the majority-Muslim nation.

The attackers rode a motorcycle, which they used to block the victims' motorcycle in the western district of Kushtia, 150 miles (245 km) from Dhaka, said district police chief Mohammad Sahabuddin Chowdhury.

The homeopathic doctor, Mir Sanaur Rahman, 55, was killed on the spot, and his companion, identified as Saifuzzaman, 45, suffered serious wounds. Police found a bloody machete at the scene.

"We suspect Islamist militants are behind the attack," Chowdhury said.

Over the past year, the South Asian nation of 160 million has seen a surge of attacks on atheist bloggers, academics, members of religious minorities and foreign aid workers.

The doctor was on his way to a weekly free clinic he operated when he was attacked.

Chowdhury said police were checking whether the victims had any particular enemies or if other factors could have been a motive but media reported associates of the doctor saying he had a reputation for progressive views.

Friends of the wounded university teacher said he too was known for being progressive-minded.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing, the U.S.-based monitoring service SITE said, quoting the militant group's Amaq news agency.

Members of Islamic State have claimed responsibility for some attacks, including the killings of two foreigners last year, and a university professor and a Hindu last month. Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent has claimed some of he attacks.

The government has denied that Islamic State or al Qaeda groups have a presence in the country and says home-grown Islamists are responsible for the wave of attacks.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

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