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Bangladesh Arrests 3 Men in Killings of Secular Bloggers

by onkar

DHAKA — The authorities in Bangladesh have arrested three men in connection with the brutal killings of secular bloggers, an official said on Tuesday.

Most Bangladeshis are Muslims, but the country has been rived with tensions over recent attacks on secular segments of society. Four bloggers who criticized or poked fun at religion and fundamentalists have been killed in attacks so far this year, and the authorities have been criticized as doing too little to solve the killings.

Cmdr. Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite police unit, said that the three suspects were believed to be members of a banned hard-line Islamic organization, the Ansarullah Bangla Team, and that all three were arrested in raids late Monday night in Dhaka, the capital.

One of the arrested men — Tawhidur Rahman, 58 — is a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin, Commander Khan said, adding that Mr. Rahman was believed to have planned the killings of two bloggers, Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Dash.

Mr. Roy was hacked to death in February by machete-wielding assailants as he left a book fair in Dhaka with his wife. Mr. Dash was chased down by four men and killed in a similar way near his home in the northeastern city of Sylhet.

Commander Khan said that Mr. Rahman, an information technology specialist, lived in Britain for 20 years and while he was there “was inspired by the philosophy of Muhammad Jasimuddin Rahmani,” the accused leader of the Ansarullah Bangla Team.

The commander said Mr. Rahman joined the group in 2007 and returned to Bangladesh in 2012, after which he took charge of the group’s finances as well as planning the two attacks ordered by Mr. Rahmani, who is in prison.

Mr. Roy and Mr. Dash both wrote for a secular website called Free Mind, which Mr. Roy moderated. Commander Khan said that Mr. Rahman followed their activities on the website and tracked their movements before the attacks.

The order to kill the men came from Mr. Rahmani in prison, and was relayed through close aides, including Sadek Ali Mithu, another of the men arrested Monday night, the commander said. Mr. Mithu, 28, is also suspected to be one of the men who carried out the attacks against Mr. Roy and Mr. Dash.

Commander Khan said that the third man arrested, Mohammad Aminul Mallik, was in charge of making sure the attackers could escape afterward, including arranging passports for them to leave the country.

Last week, the police arrested two men in connection with the killing of another secular blogger, Niladri Chaterjee, whose throat was slit by assailants in his home in Dhaka on Aug. 7. Those two suspects are also believed to be members of the Ansarullah Bangla Team, the police said.

In the weeks after Mr. Roy was killed, the police were criticized for an investigation that appeared to achieve little. The only arrest in the case at the time was that of Shafiur Rahman Farabi, a 29-year-old student who wrote a Facebook post calling for Mr. Roy to be killed.

[“Source- topicsa”]

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