A Bangladeshi law student who had made frequent posts against Islamic fundamentalism on his Facebook page has been brutally murdered, the latest in a a series of killings of secular activists and bloggers in the country.
“At least four assailants hacked Nazimuddin Samad’s head with a machete on Wednesday night. As he fell down, one of them shot him with a pistol from close range. He died on the spot,” deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Syed Nurul Islam told AFP on Thursday.
“It is a case of targeted killing. But no group has claimed responsibility,” Islam said, adding police were investigating whether Samad was murdered for his writing.
The Dhaka Tribune said the assailants shouted Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) as they attacked Samad on a busy road near Dhaka’s Jagannath University, where he was a law student.
Samad had only recently arrived in Dhaka from the northeastern city of Sylhet to study law.
Deputy commissioner Islam said police suspect the attackers had been monitoring the victim since before he arrived in Dhaka.
Bangladesh has witnessed a series of attacks on outspoken rationalist writers in the last three years. Several bloggers and writers have been living in exile in different countries, after blogger Rajib Haider was hacked to death on February 5, 2013, near his home in Dhaka’s Mirpur area. Haider was killed only a week after the movement was launched against the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists who were allegedly behind the genocide, rapes and arson attacks during the independence conflict.
Within the first eight months of 2015, four other bloggers – Avijit Roy , Washiqur Rahman Babu, Ananta Bijoy Das and Niloy Chatterjee – were killed in similar attacks, triggering claims by activists that the government was not doing enough to protect secular writers.
All the four bloggers were associated with the Ganajagaran Mancho, which forced the Sheikh Hasina government to crack down on Jamaat-e-Islami.
Police arrested members of a banned group called the Ansarullah Bangla Team over those murders, although none have yet been prosecuted.
Imran Sarker, who leads Bangladesh’s largest online secular activist group, said Samad had joined nationwide protests in 2013 against top Islamist leaders accused of committing war crimes during the country’s war of independence.
“He was a secular online activist and a loud voice against any social injustice. He was against Islamic fundamentalism,” said Sarker, head of the Bangladesh Bloggers Association.
Samad had written against radical Islam in a number of recent Facebook postings.