Monday 19 February 2018

Secular books publisher hacked to death in Bangladeshi capital

Abul Kashem Fazlul Haque, the father of Faisal Arefin Deepan, is surrounded by the media in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP)
Abul Kashem Fazlul Haque, the father of Faisal Arefin Deepan, is surrounded by the media in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP)

A publisher of secular books has been hacked to death and three other people were wounded in two separate attacks at publishing houses in Bangladesh's capital, police said.

The killing of Faisal Arefin Deepan in Dhaka comes amid fears over the rise of radical Islam in Bangladesh, with at least four atheist bloggers having been murdered in the impoverished country this year.

Both of the publishers involved in Saturday's attacks had published works of Bangladeshi-American blogger and writer Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death on the Dhaka University campus in February.

The body of publisher Faisal Arefin Deepan of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house was found inside his office following the second of Saturday's attacks, senior police officer Shibly Noman said.

Earlier in the day, publisher Ahmed Rahim Tutul and two writers were shot and stabbed by three men in the office of the Shudhdhoswar publishing house, said police officer Abdullah Al Mamun.

Local police chief Jamal Uddin Meer said the assailants then locked the wounded men inside the office before escaping.

The two writers were identified by police as Ranadeep Basu and Tareque Rahim. All three of the victims were taken to hospital, where Tutul is in critical condition.

No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attacks. The local Islamist group Ansarullah Bangla Team had claimed responsibility for the blogger killings.

Earlier this month, a bombing targeted Bangladesh's Shia Muslims. An Italian aid worker and a Japanese agricultural worker were also killed in separate attacks.

The Islamic State group claimed all three of those attacks, but Bangladesh's government rejected claims that the extremist Sunni militant group has any presence in the country.

The government has instead blamed domestic Islamist militants along with Islamist political parties - specifically the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its main ally, Jamaat-e-Islami - for orchestrating the violence to destabilise the already fractious nation.

Press Association

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