Dhaka: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its deep concern about the attacks this week on Durga Puja festivities, and the ongoing communal violence in Bangladesh.
In a statement, the commission urged the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid to launch a crackdown on extremist elements that fan anti-Hindu sentiments and hold the perpetrators of these gruesome attacks responsible.
Condemning the attack, USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza said: "the USCIRF is gravely troubled about the recent wave of violence against Hindus that has erupted in Bangladesh".
"We applaud Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's response to the heinous crimes by sending paramilitary forces to contain violence. However, we continue to urge the Bangladeshi government to crack down on extremist elements that fan anti-Hindu sentiments in the country," she said.
The USCIRF is especially disturbed by the widespread attacks and desecration of Hindu places of worship, said its Commissioner Anurima Bhargava.
Attacks on Hindu temples have intensified in Bangladesh since last Wednesday after an alleged blasphemous post with Holy Quran being placed below the feet of Durga idol,surfaced on social media during the Durga Puja celebrations.
On late Sunday night, a mob damaged 66 houses and set on fire at least 20 homes of Hindus in Bangladesh.
According to an official account in Bangladesh, at least five people were killed in the communal clashes in the country. Unconfirmed reports suggest the casualty figures to be as high as seven.
The police said over 450 suspected temple attackers were arrested so far in different parts of the country and a manhunt was underway to track down more since Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Hasina instructed her home minister to initiate immediate action against those who incited violence using religion as she asked the people not to trust anything on social media without fact-checking.