Muslim attacks in land dispute send Bangladeshi Catholics into panic


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RANGPUR, Bangladesh (CNS) -- Attacks by Muslim extremists on tribal Catholic villagers in a northwestern parish have left about 50 people injured, 10 in serious condition. The March 20 attacks in Boldipukur, in Rangpur district, have raised tensions and created panic in the area, a local parish priest told the Asian church news agency UCA News.

Some of the victims were women and children, he said.

Observers believe the attack is a result of a seven-year land dispute in which a local court recently sided with the parish.

Part of the church land had previously been occupied by a Muslim-run high school.

"They (Muslims) said they will kill some of our people. We're in a panic and are afraid to go out," said Father Leo Desai, pastor of Christ the Savior Church in Dinajpur Diocese, about 350 miles northwest of Dhaka.

Father Desai explained that Muslims armed with sticks, bricks and knives attacked villagers who had gathered at midday to watch construction work on a piece of land the parish owns.

The priest said that after the incidents he filed complaints against 17 of the attackers with help from a lawyer sent by Bishop Moses Costa of Dinajpur.