Authorities say at least 4 people were killed as armed men attacked police guarding an Eid prayer congregation in Kishoreganj, one of the biggest in the country.

A Bangladeshi policeman stands guard as Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers in Dhaka on July 7, 2016.
A Bangladeshi policeman stands guard as Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers in Dhaka on July 7, 2016.

Bangladesh was rocked by an armed attack on police guarding a massive prayer congregation Thursday morning, only days after a hostage situation in Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka left over 20 people dead.

At least four people were killed in a grenade, gun and machete attack near a prayer gathering marking the celebration of Eid in Kishoreganj in northern Bangladesh. Authorities said at least 250,000 people were at the site, one of the largest Eid prayer congregations in the country.

"Two policemen, an attacker and a woman who was shot during the gunfight were killed," national police spokesman AKM Shahidur Rahman told AFP.

"Nine policemen were also injured. They are in a critical condition and have been shifted to a military hospital in Dhaka.

"They threw a bomb at a police check post. A police constable was killed in the explosion. One attacker was killed and another was arrested," Mahbubur Rahman, a police officer in the district control room, told AFP.

The district's deputy police chief, Tofazzal Hosain, said some of the attackers were armed with machetes - a weapon of choice lately in attacks on bloggers and secular activists Bangladesh.

"They first threw a small bomb targeting police and then attacked them with machetes. Police retaliated by returning gunfire," he said.

The private television channel Somoy News broadcast footage of a gunfight between police and a group of attackers and reported the slain policeman had been hacked to death.

However, Kishoreganj district administrator Zillur Rahman said two of the attackers were killed in the attack which was soon brought under control.

"We are still checking for other miscreants but after this incident, prayers were held peacefully and we have asked everyone to go home," Rahman said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, a video released by DAESH on Tuesday warned of more attacks in Bangladesh in future.

DAESH had claimed the killing of hostages in the Holey Artisan Bakery located in Gulshan District in the capital city Dhaka. At least 20 hostages, including Italians, Japanese, Indians and Americans, and two policemen were hacked to death in the cafe that is popular with foreigners, businessmen and diplomats. Autopsy reports says the militants tortured their Italian victims by slashing them with knives before killing them. Some had been mutilated, a legal source said.

Bangladesh has been on a heightened state of alert due to growing wave of attacks this year; some targeting individuals such as academics, activists and religious minorities and others, largescale ones, claimed by DAESH and Al Qaeda.

However, the government and police blamed home-grown militants for the killings they said were aimed at destabilising the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government deny that international jihadist networks have gained a foothold in the country.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies