A machete-wielding gang hacked a Bangladeshi blogger to death on Friday in the capital Dhaka, the latest in a series of violent attacks against secular authors in the country.
The attackers broke into the apartment of Niloy Chakrabarti just weeks after the popular writer asked police for security due to alleged threats. Known on the internet by his pen name Niloy Neel, the blogger had previously expressed fears of being murdered.
"They entered his room on the fifth floor and shoved his friend aside and then hacked him to death," Imran H. Sarker, the leader of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, told AFP.
Deputy Police Commissioner Muntashirul Islam told AFP that six people knocked on Chakrabarti's door claiming to be interested in renting a flat.
"Two of them then took him to a room and then slaughtered him there," Islam said. "His wife was in the flat but she was confined to another room."
Chakrabarti is the fourth secular blogger murdered so far this year. All of the victims were known for publishing criticism of Islam, a religion practiced by more than 90 percent of Bangladeshis. In addition to discussing issues such as minority rights and Hindu oppression in the country, Chakrabarti also wrote public critiques of the previous blogger attacks.
Prior to today's murder, the most recent victim was Ananta Bijoy Das, a 33-year-old banker who was attacked by a group of masked men on the morning of May 12 in the northeastern city of Sylhet. Friends and family of the blogger told VICE News at the time that Das had been online shortly before he was killed, and had left home to run an errand. His killers attacked him with machete blows to the head and body.
Blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu was also hacked to death on March 30 in Dhaka. Two suspects were arrested in connection with the killing.
After Das was killed, Sarker told VICE News there was a culture of impunity for the murder of bloggers in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, fellow writers told AFP that Das had been on a hit list drawn up by militants who were behind the murder of US-Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy in February. Das, who founded a website promoting rationalism, was also hacked to death.
Roy was an atheist and the author of The Virus of Faith, a book that likened religious extremism to an infectious disease. He was visiting Bangladesh to promote the book during an annual literary festival in Dhaka.
A group known as al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) later published a video claiming responsibility for Roy's murder. AQIS leader Maulana Umar claimed AQIS was also responsible for the deaths of the "blasphemers" Mohammad Shakil Auj, an Islamic scholar shot dead in the city of Karachi in Pakistan last year, the Pakistani blogger Aniqa Naz, who was reportedly killed in a road accident in Pakistan in 2012, and Bangladeshi blogger Rajib Haider, who was killed in a machete attack in Dhaka in February 2013.
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