Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-The law enforcers in Bangladesh claimed to have arrested three suspected Islamist militants of Ansarullah Bangla Team in different parts of Dhaka over the killing of two secularist bloggers.
Both Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das were hacked to death earlier this year.
The arrestees are: Touhidur Rahman, 58, a Bangladesh origin British citizen; and two “active members” of banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) – Sadek Ali and Aminul Mollik.
Rahman is the main planner of the attacks on Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das, an official of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) told the BBN in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Rahman, an IT expert, is said to have links with the militant outfit, Ansarullah Bangla Team.
Police say his arrest will provide evidence about a total of four killings of secular bloggers this year.
Bangladesh government has banned the Ansarullah Bangla Team in May this year following a spate of killings of bloggers.
Rab officials made the arrest Monday night from Nilkhet and Dhanmondi areas of the capital city, the official added.
The Bangladesh government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been criticised for failing to adequately protect secular bloggers and activists, but Today’s arrests may provide hope that those responsible will be prosecuted.
In February, Avijit Roy, a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin and critic of religious militancy, was hacked to death by a gang with machetes, while his wife, fellow blogger Rafida Bonya Ahmed, was seriously injured.
Secular blogger Ananta Das was killed in similar circumstances in north-eastern Bangladesh in May.
Earlier this month, blogger Niloy Chatterjee, who criticised religious extremism, was killed in his flat in the capital city, Dhaka. A fourth blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was stabbed to death in March.
Islam is Bangladesh’s state religion, but the Muslim-majority 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.
BBC adds: Bangladesh is officially secular but critics say the government has not done enough to stop the attacks.
Last week police arrested two other suspected members of ABT over the killing of atheist blogger Niloy Neel.
Founded Mukto-Mona (“Free Mind”) blog site in 2000 to champion secular and humanist writing in Muslim-majority Bangladesh
Bangladeshi-born US citizen on visit to Bangladesh
Engineer by profession
Received death threats from Islamist radicals for his writings, family says
“He was a thinker, he was a man of great knowledge, he was a scientist, he was an engineer” – close friend and Dhaka University professor Anwar Hossain
ANANTA BIJOY DAS
Wrote blogs for Mukto-Mona, a website once moderated by Avijit Roy
Was killed in broad daylight near his home on a street in Sylhet as he headed to work at a local bank
Was critical of religious fundamentalism and of previous attacks on secular thinkers
Sweden turned down a visa request from him in April