Suspected militants posing as tenants entered an apartment building and hacked to death a secular blogger in Bangladesh’s capital in the fourth such deadly attack this year, police said.
Friends of Niloy Chottopadhay, 40, who also used an online name of Niloy Chowdhury, said he had received several threats recently, prompting him to remove his photographs from his blog. They also said he was a secular blogger and had a Facebook account with the name “Niloy Neel” in which he criticized radical Muslims at home and abroad.
The victim’s wife, Asha Moni, said at least four young people attacked her husband on Friday.
She filed a murder case against four unnamed people, police official Zahidur Rahman said yesterday, but no arrests have been made.
Hours after the assault, Ansar al-Islam, which intelligence officials believe is affiliated with al-Qaeda on the Indian subcontinent, sent an e-mail to media organizations claiming responsibility for the killing and calling the blogger an enemy of Allah. The authenticity of the e-mail has not been confirmed.
The US State Department condemned it as a “cowardly murder.”
“This heinous act once again underscores the need to work together to counter violent extremism. We stand with Bangladeshis who reject this vicious act and who work to protect space for freedom of expression,” spokesman Mark Toner said.
UN human rights officials called for Bangladeshi authorities to ensure accountability and prevent such violence.
“The organized targeting of critical voices aims at promoting a culture of silence and fear,” special rapporteurs on freedom of expression David Kaye and extra-judicial executions Christof Heyns said in a statement in Geneva.
The killing is the fourth of a secular blogger since February, when a Bangladeshi-American man who was also critical of radical Muslims, Avijit Roy, was hacked to death on the Dhaka University campus while walking with his wife.
Two others were attacked and killed in March and May, one in Dhaka and another in the northeastern city of Sylhet.
Detectives say radical groups were behind the previous attacks and have made some arrests, but have failed to make any major headway into the killings.
Family and friends said Chowdhury had sought police protection after he was threatened but police asked him to leave the country for his safety.
Moni said her husband went to at least two police stations to record a complaint in May after he was followed by two men on the street, but his complaint was not registered.
Bangladeshi Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal denied the claim that Chowdhury went to police to seek security.
Islam is Bangladesh’s state religion, but the country is governed by secular laws. For more than a decade, extreme interpretations of Islam have steadily gained ground.
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