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#Escalation: After bloggers, foreigners, Christians now getting attacked in Bangladesh.

A Bangladeshi pastor has survived an attempt on his life by three men who came to his home pretending to want to learn about Christianity, police and the victim said.

The incident follows the fatal attacks on two foreigners last week in the predominantly Muslim country that is grappling with violence claimed by hardline Islamist groups.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for last week’s attacks, one on a Japanese agricultural worker and another on an Italian aid worker.

The Isis claim has been disputed by Bangladesh’s government, which blamed the opposition for trying to destabilise the country.

In the latest attack, the pastor, Luke Sarker, 52, suffered minor injuries on Monday when three men aged 25-30 attacked him with a knife at his home in the north-western district of Pabna, according to police officials.

Sarker, the pastor of Faith Bible church, told the Associated Press that the men who attacked him had called him about two weeks ago saying they wanted to visit him to learn about Christianity.

After they arrived at his home on Monday, they attacked him with a knife and tried to slit his throat, Sarker said.

But as he shouted, his wife came to his rescue and the men fled. Police later recovered a motorbike from outside his home.

Police say they do not have any clues yet about the identities of the three men but suspect they could be members of a fundamentalist group.

Meanwhile, police said they questioned four people on Monday in connection with Saturday’s attack on Japanese agricultural worker Kunio Hoshi, who was killed by unidentified people in northern Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has been struggling in recent months with a rise in violence claimed by hardline Islamic groups, banning several organisations that have been blamed for killing four secular bloggers this year.

Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility for Saturday’s attack, according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi postings online. The report could not be independently confirmed. Isis also claimed responsibility for the 28 September killing of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

The Bangladeshi home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, denied those claims. The government has blamed the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party and its key ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, for the attacks, accusing the groups of trying to destabilise the country. A spokesman for the BNP denied the charges.

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