Saturday 24 March 2018

Fourth Bangladeshi blogger killed by suspected militants

A photo frame displaying portraits of blogger Niloy Chowdhury and his Asha Moni in their room in Dhaka (AP)
A photo frame displaying portraits of blogger Niloy Chowdhury and his Asha Moni in their room in Dhaka (AP)

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.

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 all his photos from his blog.

They said he was a secular blogger and had a Facebook account with the name "Niloy Neel" in which he criticised radical Islamists at home and abroad.

Asha Moni, the victim's wife, said at least four young people attacked her husband in Dhaka.

Hours after the assault, Ansar-al-Islam, which intelligence officials believe is affiliated with al Qaida on the Indian subcontinent, sent an email to media organisations claiming responsibility for the killing and calling the blogger an enemy of Allah.

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

United Nations human rights officials called for Bangladeshi authorities to ensure accountability and prevent such violence.

"The organised targeting of critical voices aims at promoting a culture of silence and fear," special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, said.

The killing is the fourth of a secular blogger since February, when a Bangladeshi-American man who was also critical of Islam, 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 north-eastern 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.

Islam is Bangladesh's state religion, but the country is governed by secular laws based on British common law.

Over the last decade or so, extreme interpretations of Islam have steadily gained ground.

Press Association

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