(Ananta Bijoy Das)
Dhaka: Suspected Islamists on Tuesday hacked to death a secular blogger near his home in northeastern Bangladesh, the third such deadly attack since February in the Muslim-majority nation.
Ananta Bijoy Das died instantly after a gang of masked men attacked him with machetes near his house at Subidbazar area in Sylhet city this morning while he was on the way to his office, police said.
“They (killers) attacked him from behind, he was hit with machetes on the head and visibly died instantly,” an eyewitness told PTI from the scene.
A close friend of Das, Shahiduzzaman Paplu, told media that he was known for his writing on “materialism and logic” in blogs. He had also written the preface of a book authored by Avijit Roy, who was the first victim of deadly attack on so-called “atheist bloggers” by the suspected Islamists this year.
Machete wielding assailants in February killed 45-year old Roy, a Bangladeshi-born US national, here while his wife narrowly escaped the attack.
The murder of Das comes just a week after Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on Roy. Authorities have launched an investigation into the attacks on the bloggers.
A month after Roy’s killing, another blogger Oyasiqur Rahman was murdered in similar fashion in Dhaka but people in the neighbourhood nabbed two suspected killers from the scene and handed them over to police.
Bangladesh is officially a secular country but 90 per cent of its 160 million population are Muslims.
Police so far arrested several activists of little known outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team as it earlier carried out a hate campaign on the internet against “atheist bloggers”.
Investigators earlier said they suspected that the outfit was closely linked to al-Qaeda.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation last month joined hands with Bangladeshi investigators in tracking down the culprits of Roy’s murder while police shared the evidence linked to the assassination.
Bangladesh’s elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion last month arrested the key-suspect of Roy’s murder, Farabi Shafiur Rahman, and said he also confessed to threatening to kill Roy in his Facebook and Twitter postings.
Blogger Rajib Haidar was the first victim of the suspected Islamists who killed him in 2013 here.