Fourth secular blogger hacked in Bangladesh

2015-08-07 19:52

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Dhaka - A gang armed with machetes hacked a secular blogger to death at his home in Dhaka on Friday, sparking protests in the capital over the fourth such murder in Bangladesh this year.

Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, was killed after the gang forced its way into his apartment, according to the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, which was alerted to the attack by a witness.

"They entered his room in the fifth floor and shoved his friend aside and then hacked him to death. He was a listed target of the Islamist militants," the network's head, Imran H Sarker, told AFP.

Police confirmed Chakrabarti, 40, had been murdered by a group of half a dozen people at his home in the capital's Goran neighbourhood who had pretended they were looking for somewhere to rent.

"Two of them then took him to a room and then slaughtered him there," deputy police commissioner Muntashirul Islam told AFP, adding that his wife had been "confined to another room" during the attack.

Mahbubur Rahman, another deputy commissioner, told reporters Chakrabarti's wife had been heard crying out "Save us! Save us!" but no one responded.

The Bangladesh branch of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Ansar al-Islam, claimed the killing and warned of more to come, according to monitoring group SITE.

"If your 'freedom of speech' maintains no limits, then widen your chests for 'freedom of our machetes'," the group, which also claimed to have murdered secular blogger Washiqur Rahman in March, said in posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Chakrabarti is the fourth secular blogger to be killed in the Muslim-majority nation since February, when Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka. Roy's wife was also badly wounded in the attack.

The other victims include 27-year-old Rahman who was killed in Dhaka four months ago and Ananta Bijoy Das, who was attacked in May by a group wielding machetes in the northeastern city of Sylhet.

In a Facebook post on May 15, Chakrabarti said he had been followed by two young men after protesting over Das's murder, but police refused to register the complaint and instead told him to leave the country.

Amnesty International said the government had to do more to stop "this spate of savage killings".

"These especially brutal killings are designed to sow fear and to have a chilling effect on free speech," said David Griffiths, the rights group's South Asia research director.

"The price for holding opinions and expressing them freely must not be death. The Bangladeshi authorities now have an urgent duty to make clear that no more attacks like this will be tolerated."

Bangladesh banned the hardline Islamist group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) following Das's murder after facing accusations that too little was being done to stop such attacks.

In a recent petition to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, authors including Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood called on her government "to do all in their power to ensure that the tragic events... are not repeated".

Bangladesh is an officially secular country, but more than 90% of its 160 million people are Muslim.

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