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Third blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh

Rafida Ahmed, who was severely injured in a jihadist hacking attack, speaks during an interview with Reuters near Washington

By Ruma Paul

A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday, the third killing of a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.

Ananta Bijoy Das, a blogger who advocated secularism, was attacked by four assailants in the northeastern district of Sylhet on Tuesday morning, senior police official Mohammad Rahamatullah told Reuters.

Rahamatullah said Das was a 33-year-old banker.

Das wrote for ‘Mukto Mona’, or free mind, a website propagating rationalism and opposing fundamentalism that was founded by US-based blogger Avijit Roy.

Roy himself was hacked to death in February while returning with his wife from a Dhaka book fair.

His widow, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger. In an interview with Reuters in the United States published on Monday, Ahmed called her husband’s killing “a global act of terrorism”.

Religious militants have targeted secularist writers in Bangladesh in recent years, while the government has tried to crack down on hardline Islamist groups seeking to make the South Asian nation of 160 million a sharia-based state.

On March 30, Washiqur Rahman, another secular blogger who aired his outrage over Roy’s death on social media, was killed in similar fashion on a busy street in the capital, Dhaka.

Their deaths followed the similar killing in 2013 of Ahmed Rajib Haider, who backed calls to impose the death penalty on Islamist leaders accused of atrocities in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.

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