Dhaka: A Bangladeshi law student, who posted comments against radical Islamists on Facebook, was hacked by machete-wielding militants before being shot dead from close range here, the latest in a series of brutal attacks on secular bloggers and activists in the Muslim majority country. Nazimuddin Samad, 28, a masters student of the state-run Jagannath University’s law department, was killed by suspected Islamist militants in Old Dhaka’s Sutrapur area last night.
He had been on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that a group of radical Islamists prepared and sent to Bangladesh’s interior ministry. Samad was attacked by three assailants on a busy road while walking to his home in Gendaria with another youth after completing classes at the university near Bahadur Shah Park.
While murdering Samad, the killers shouted Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great), witnesses said. The youth accompanying the victim has been missing since the incident, a police official said. “They initially hacked him and then fired gunshots to confirm his death,” he added.
Samad, who hailed from Sylhet, was the information and research secretary of Sylhet district unit of Bangabandhu Jatiya Jubo Parishad. He was also an activist of Gonojagoron Moncho’s Sylhet wing.
His friends said Samad used to campaign for secularism on Facebook and was critical of radical Islamists. A day before the murder, he expressed concerns over the country’s law and order in a Facebook post. Samad was known to have been critical of state religion in the Bangladeshi constitution.
Businessmen in the area closed their shops immediately after hearing the gunshots. Police cordoned off the crime scene. They recovered a bullet shell from the spot. Nurul Amin, assistant commissioner of Sutrapur division, was quoted as saying that police went to the spot and found the body in a pool of blood.
Nurul said it was clear that the assailants kept an eye on Samad’s activities for long. University Proctor Nur Mohammad said Samad got admitted to the university two months ago. “We have informed his family about the murder and are taking detailed information about him,” he said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
However, in the past the Islamic State has claimed a series of attacks on secular bloggers in the Sunni-majority Bangladesh.
There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh over the past six months specially targeting minorities, secular bloggers and foreigners. Last month, a 65-year-old Christian convert was hacked to death in the northern Bangladeshi town of Kurigram by three motorbike-borne unidentified assailants.
Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were killed with machetes, one inside his own home. Bangladesh-born US blogger and science writer Avijit Roy, 42, was attacked just yards away from a book fair in Dhaka in February last year. A month later, fellow blogger Washiqur Rahman, 27, was hacked to death in broad daylight near his home in Dhaka.
The subsequent victims were Ananta Bijoy Das, 33, a banker and a founder of a group called the Science and Rationalist Council; Niloy Chakrabarti, 40, who wrote online under the pen name Niloy Neel and publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan, 43, who published a bestselling book by Roy.