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DHAKA, Bangladesh – Bangladesh's government on Sunday played down a statement by the Islamic State group that it was responsible for gunning down a Japanese man in the South Asian country, saying it would investigate the "fishy" claim.
Masked assailants riding a motorbike shot and killed Kunio Hoshi in northern Bangladesh on Saturday, becoming the second foreigner in a week to be fatally shot in the country.
The Islamic State group issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi postings online. The report could not be independently confirmed. The extremist group also claimed responsibility for the killing of an Italian aid worker last week.
"Oh, it's absolutely rubbish, there is no IS in the country, no way," Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told The Associated Press. "Why would IS do this here? These are incidents for creating instability in the country."
"The claims are fishy and we are examining," he said.
Bangladesh's government had a similar reaction to the Islamic State's claim of responsibility for the Sept. 28 killing of the Italian aid worker, who was gunned down by motorbike-riding assailants in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. It described that shooting as an "isolated incident."
Saturday's attack took place in Mahiganj village in Rangpur district. Local residents reported that two bike-riding assailants shot three times at Hoshi on Saturday morning, said Rezaul Karim, a police official.
Karim said Hoshi had started a grass farm in Rangpur, which is about 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of Dhaka.
Police have filed a murder case, accusing three unnamed people in the shooting, Karim said Sunday.
Ayub Ali, a witness, said three men were standing near a road and fired at Hoshi as he passed by on a rickshaw. "They fired at him while he was on the rickshaw and left the scene," Ali said.
Japanese officials declined to give Hoshi's age, but media in Japan reported that he was 66.
An official from the Japanese foreign ministry's anti-terrorism department said in Tokyo on Sunday that in light of the Islamic State group's claim of responsibility, Japanese officials were investigating the incident as a possible terrorist attack. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing ministry rules.
The ministry issued a statement urging Japanese to use caution overseas, particularly in Bangladesh and other Muslim nations, "in order not to be embroiled in kidnappings, threats, terrorist attacks and other unanticipated events."
Bangladesh, where most of the population is Muslim, has been struggling in recent months with a rise in violence claimed by hard-line Islamic groups, banning several that have been blamed for killing four bloggers this year.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.