DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Assailants believed to be Islamist militants entered an apartment building posing as potential tenants and killed a secular blogger in Bangladesh’s capital on Friday, in the fourth such deadly attack this year, police said.
Police official Mustafizur Rahman identified the victim as 40-year-old Niloy Chowdhury and said he was hacked to death in his apartment. The motive was not immediately clear.
The victim’s family said his real name was Niloy Chottopadhay and that he used a different name on social media.
Asha Moni, the victim’s wife, said at least four young people attacked her husband.
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 organizations claiming responsibility for the killing and calling the blogger an enemy of Allah. The authenticity of the email could not be independently confirmed.
The victim’s friends 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 criticized radical Islamists at home and abroad.
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 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.
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.