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Fifty people hold up Catholic church in Boldipukur

In Bangladesh, a mob of roughly 50 robbers left a group of Catholic priests and nuns unharmed, but walked away with thousands of US dollars’ worth of church property. The bishop called it a “typical attack,” noting that Muslims have attacked the parish on several occasions before. Local police have yet to find the culprits.

By Sumon Corraya

7/8/2014 Bangladesh (AsiaNews) – A mob of some 50 robbers attacked the Catholic Church in Boldipukur on Sunday. The village is located in the Diocese of Dinajpur, some 440 km northwest of Dhaka.

With the help of local elements, the thieves rounded up the priests and nuns and then seized anything of value, like computers, laptops, cash, furniture, worth a million Bangladeshi taka (approximately US $13,000). After the robbery, priests and nuns were [let free].

Yesterday Bishop Sebastian Tudu, PIME [a Catholic missions agency] Fr Livio Priest, and TOR Fr Jarom Rozario visited the parish church along with Robuil Islam, local deputy chief of police.

“It is a typical attack against us,” a sad Mgr Sebastian Tudu, bishop of Dinajpur toldAsiaNews. “Muslims are trying to put pressure on Christians because we are a minority. We want security from local authorities. We want peace and justice.”

As priests and nuns now live in fear, scared after what happened, local police have been looking for the culprits, but so far, no one has been arrested.

The latest incident is nothing new. On 20 March 2010, a group of Muslims tried to seize Church land by force.

At that time, other attacks by Islamic extremists against the parish left 50 people injured, ten of them seriously. This caused panic and tensions in the area. In one case, the matter has lasted since 2010.

The parish includes about 2,000 people, mostly tribal Santal, Oraon and Mahali. From a social and financial point of view, most of them are poor, illiterate and do not have the papers to prove they own their ancestral lands. As local Muslims occupied their lands, disputes ensued.

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