Police say a doctor has been hacked to death and his friend critically wounded in the latest of several attacks in Bangladesh against atheist bloggers, minorities and others who promote liberal views.

Local police chief Proloy Chisim says the two were hit Friday by machete-wielding attackers who fled on a motorbike in the western district of Kushtia.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility. Its news agency Amaq said Friday that Sanaur Rahman, a homeopath doctor, was attacked because he promoted Christianity.

The claim could not be verified independently. Bangladesh authorities deny that the Islamic State group has any presence in the country.

The recent killings by suspected Islamist extremists have heightened concerns about the safety of advocates of secularism and free speech in Bangladesh.