Bangladesh blogger murdered in machete attack

An online blogger campaigning against religious extremism has been hacked to death in the city of Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Ananta Bijoy Das was killed by a masked gang carry machetes, in what is just the latest attack against those advocating freedom of expression.

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Avijit Roy, a vocal criticiser of religious intolerance and the moderator of Mr Das’ blog Mukto-Mona, was also killed by a machete-wielding gang in February. The attack took place in the capital Dhaka and left his widow with a number of injuries. In March, blogger Washiqur Rahman was also violently murdered.

According to human rights activist Sara Hussain, bloggers in Bangladesh can become targets for attacks after speaking out against extremism.

"They've always believed and written very vocally in support of free expression and they've very explicitly written about not following any religion themselves," she told the BBC. "These last two have been part of a blog called Mukto-Mona (Free Mind), which is about free thinking and is about explicitly taking on religious fundamentalism and particularly Islamic religious fundamentalism. Their names have been on lists of identified targets."

Mr Das had received threats in response to his writing, with religious militants increasingly targeting atheist bloggers. Following Mr Roy’s death, huge protests took place across the country with many Bangladeshis criticising the government’s failure to defend free speech.

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An Islamist has been arrested over his murder, while two madrassa students have been arrested in connection with Mr Rahman’s death. The police have not yet apprehended those responsible for the murder of Mr Das, but the authorities do believe that there were four attackers and that he was confronted on his way to work, approximately 500 metres away from his office.