DHAKA - A Bangladeshi Christian was severely injured Friday after being hacked with knives by a group of youths while he was guarding a Catholic church, police said.

Gilbert Costa, 65, was guarding the Church at Mathurapur in the northwestern Pabna district, some 175 kilometres (110 miles) from Dhaka, when he was suddenly attacked by young men.

"He was hacked randomly by sharp knives and was left severely injured. He was shifted to a hospital where his condition is now stable," local police chief Ahsan Habib told AFP.

Habib said police had arrested three young men from the same village where Costa lives in connection with the attack.

He said they were investigating the attack but ruled out any extremist link, saying it appeared to be the result of "personal enmity".

"Costa and his relatives have identified the attackers with whom they had personal feud in the village. We have found no extremist connection whatsoever," he added.

There was no immediate comment from the country's tiny Catholic community.

Bangladesh has suffered a spate of attacks on religious minorities in recent years, including the murder of an Italian priest.

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have claimed responsibility in some cases but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's secular government has pinned the blame on local outfits.