A 40-year-old secular Bangladeshi blogger was hacked to death at his flat here today by five machete-wielding unidentified assailants believed to be Islamist militants, the fourth such brutal murder in the country in less than six months.
Niloy Chakrabarty Neel was killed by assailants inside his fifth-floor flat at North Gorhan in the capital Dhaka.
The five assailants entered the flat after the Friday prayers, pushed his wife and one of his friends aside and then hacked him to death. The murder sparked protests in the city.
"The assassins used machetes... it appears they hit him repeatedly until he was dead," Mostafizur Rahman, officer in charge of the police station in the neighbourhood, told PTI.
He said Neel, an official of a non-government organisation, used to live in the apartment building along with his family members and was known for his secular write ups in blogs. He used the pen-name Niloy Neel.
The blogger recently received numerous threats for his writings and stance against radicalism, Bdnews quoted his close friends as saying.
He had removed all his photos from his Facebook page and used Kolkata as his current city he was living in after he had started getting the threats, it said.
One of Neel's friends Suprity Dhar told PTI that he used to study in India and returned to Bangladesh a year ago.
The motive behind Neel's murder was not immediately clear and no one claimed responsibility for the death. Police, however believe that a Islamist group behind the killing of three other bloggers this year could be responsible for the murder.
Neel was an activist of a platform -- the Ganajagaran Mancha which waged a massive campaign for the capital punishment for war criminals who carried out atrocities siding with the Pakistani troops in 1971.
"Niloy was also a regular blogger...he was a target of the Islamists," Imran H Sarker, the Ganajagaran Mancha spokesperson, said, adding the attackers had entered the building posing as potential tenants.
Media reports said Criminal Investigation Department (CID) joined the police in collecting evidence related to the incident.
Neel's murder is the fourth such brutal murder in the country. Machete-wielding masked men in May hacked to death 33-year-old Ananta Bijoy Das, a secular blogger, in Sylhet city.
Assailants in February had killed 45-year old Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US national, here while his wife narrowly escaped the attack.
A month after Roy's killing, another blogger Washiqur Rahman was murdered in similar fashion in Dhaka but people in the neighbourhood nabbed two suspected killers from the scene and handed them over to police.
All three killed were involved with the Ganajagaran Mancha.
In May, terror group al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) had claimed responsibility for the killing of secular bloggers in Bangladesh whom it described as 'blasphemers'.
Radical group Ansar Bangla Team had also claimed responsibility for the deaths.
Two years ago, Mancha activist Ahmed Rajib Haider, another blogger, was hacked to death near his Mirpur home in Dhaka.
Police earlier said they suspected banned Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) having links to al-Qaeda was involved in the murders of the secular bloggers in the recent months.
Several suspected operatives of the ABT were arrested after the group claimed responsibility for the murder of three bloggers.