Bangladesh Sufi leader hacked
Bangladesh has been witnessing several Islamist murders in recent monthsReuters file photo

A Sufi Muslim leader has been hacked to death in northern Bangladesh, the latest in a string of similar extremist incidents troubling the country. The local leader was found with his throat slit and gashes in his shoulder.

The body of Mohammad Shahidullah, 65, was discovered in a pool of blood in a mango grove in the district of Rajshahi.

"He was not a famous Sufi. But there could be a possibility that he was killed by Islamist militants," the district's police chief Nisharul Arif told AFP. Shahidullah has been missing from his home since 6 May.

In recent months, there have been several incidents of secular bloggers and activists being hacked to death in Bangladesh by extremists. Some of them are claimed by militants linked to Islamic State (Isis) but the government sternly denies the group's presence in the south Asian nation.

Local authorities have not yet confirmed whether Shahidullah was slaughtered by Islamist radicals but said the attack bears a strong resemblance to the earlier murders.

"He was slaughtered from his neck and there are also some deep gashes in his throat," another police official Abdur Razzak was quoted as saying. Shahidullah is a popular Sufi figure in the locality and had many followers.

Sufi Islam is considered as a mystical and moderate form of Islam, a path deemed un-Islamic by conservatives. Though Sufis have a foothold in Bangladesh, the Sunni-majority nation does not regard them as strict Muslims.