Bangladeshi minister on Tuesday blamed a string of gruesome killings in the country on Israel, as a 70-year-old Hindu priest became the latest murder victim by suspected jihadists.

While the minister tried to portray the recent attacks as part of a conspiracy involving Israel’s Mossad espionage agency, security forces waged deadly gunbattles with members of a homegrown jihadist group.

Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan again linked the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to the attacks, saying they were part of a wider conspiracy that also involved Mossad.

“These killings are part of a national and international conspiracy. Those who are carrying out these incidents are communicating with Mossad,” Khan told AFP.

“You must have noticed that an Israeli intelligence agent had a meeting with a politician, it does not need to be verified further, all Bangladeshi know about it,” he also said, according to the BBC.

A senior BNP official was charged with sedition last month for allegedly plotting against the state when he met an Israeli government adviser.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Jerusalem told the BBC the allegations were “utter drivel.”

Bangladeshi authorities have been coming under mounting international pressure to end the string of attacks on religious minorities and secular activists that have left more than 40 people dead in the last three years.

Authorities have blamed homegrown Islamists for the attacks, which have surged in recent weeks, rejecting claims of responsibility from the Islamic State (IS) group and a South Asia branch of Al-Qaeda.

IS claimed the latest victim, Hindu priest Ananda Gopal Ganguly, whose head was nearly severed. The group, through its Amaq news agency, said it “assassinated” the priest as he was walking to prayers, the SITE monitoring group said.

Read more at Times of Israel