Bangladesh has vowed to hunt down the killers of Dhaka-based blogger Niloy Chatterjee, as activists expressed outrage and called for justice following his hacking death.
The government has failed to find out the killers of the bloggers killed in the last few months and we demand early follow up of those cases too
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said on Saturday that the nation’s intelligence agencies went straight to work after a gang of machete-armed attackers hacked Chatterjee to death inside his home.
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“We hope we’ll catch the killers soon. They’ll be hunted down,” the minister told AFP news agency, adding that the perpetrators appeared to have been well-prepared for the assault.
Hundreds of activists, however, condemned the government as they marched on Saturday decrying the culture of impunity in the country.
“The government has failed to find out the killers of the bloggers killed in the last few months and we demand early follow up of those cases too,” Shammi Akhter, a friend of the victim and fellow blogger, told Al Jazeera.
Devjyoty Rudro, another blogger, said many writers fear for their lives.
Amnesty International said the government had to do more to stop “this spate of savage killings”, while the US State Department condemned it as a “cowardly murder”.
The home minister, however, rejected the criticism that his government was not doing enough for the safety of secular writers, adding that it was “trying” to protect hundreds of them.
Bangladesh is officially a secular country, but more than 90 percent of its 160 million people are Muslim.
On Saturday, Asha Moni, wife of the slain blogger, filed a murder case against “four unidentified attackers” over the killing, local police chief Mustafiz Bhuiyan said.
Moni later told reporters that one of the men attacked her husband shouting “Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)”.
Ansar al-Islam, a local chapter of al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the killing.
Chatterjee was the fourth secular blogger to be killed in the Muslim-majority nation since February, when Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy was hacked to death outside Dhaka University.
Nur Alam, assistant police commissioner in Dhaka, said the killing bore the hallmarks of other bloggers’ murders.
“It seems that it (murder) was carried out by an extremist Islamic group,” he told AFP.
Habibuzzaman Chowdhury, a forensics expert who conducted the autopsy on the victim, told reporters that multiple attackers had hacked him at least 14 times.
Among the 14 wounds, eight deep cuts were found on the victim’s neck and chin leading to his immediate death. Injuries were also found in his hands, palms and fingers.
Chowdhury said the killing had similarities with the style of the murders of other bloggers, including Avijit Roy.
The body of the slain blogger was handed over to a relative after the autopsy, and was later taken to his village, where his last rites would be performed.
Al Jazeera has learned that the victim used to stay at the apartment with his wife and a sister-in-law, until he started to receive threats. He had been renting his apartment for two years.
With additional reporting from Dhaka by Mahmud Hossain Opu