Hundreds attack Hindu homes, temples in Bangladesh

NEW DELHI: Hundreds of Muslims in eastern Bangladesh angry about a social media post launched a wave of attacks against Hindu temples and homes in a rare convulsion of communal violence in the region, Bangladeshi police said Monday.

Police arrested 15 people suspected of taking part in the violence, which erupted over a social media post depicting the Hindu god Shiva over a picture of the Kaaba, the large cube-shaped building in Mecca that is considered one of the holiest places in Islam.

As news of the post spread through neighbourhoods in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, hundreds of people rampaged for two hours Sunday through Hindu communities east of Dhaka, the capital, said senior regional police officer Abdul Karim.

Police said 100 homes and five Hindu temples were looted. Some rioters apprehended a 27-year-old man they suspected of posting the offensive picture, but police have yet to determine if he posted it.

"We are working on it," Karim said.

Police reinforcements and members of Bangladesh's paramilitary border guard have been deployed in the area, around 150 kilometers (94 miles) east of Dhaka.

Such cases of vandalism and civic unrest between religious communities in Bangladesh are considered uncommon, though the country is struggling to stem a wave of violence by radical Islamist militants targeting religious minorities and atheists.