DHAKA - A local Sufi Muslim leader has been found hacked to death in Bangladesh in a suspected Islamist killing, police said Saturday, two weeks after the Islamic State group claimed the murder of a liberal professor in the same northwestern district.

Mohammad Shahidullah, 65, had been missing since leaving home on Friday morning before villagers last night found his body in a pool of blood in a mango grove in Rajshahi.

It comes amid a troubling rise in violence against religious minorities, liberal activists and foreigners in Bangladesh, with six murders since the start of last month alone.

"He was not a famous Sufi. But there could be a possibility that he was killed by militants," Rajshahi district police chief Nisharul Arif told AFP.

The police officer said the killing of the self-proclaimed Sufi master was "similar" to other recent hacking deaths of religious minorities carried out by attackers with machetes or cleavers.

"He was slaughtered from his neck and there are also some deep gashes in his throat," Abdur Razzak, a local police official said, adding that "he had scores of followers in a nearby district".

The Islamic State group and a Bangladeshi branch of Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for several of the killings.

However the secular government in Dhaka denies that IS and Al-Qaeda are behind the attacks, saying they have no known presence in Bangladesh, and blames the killings on homegrown militants.