Amid harsh criticism for perceived police failure, detectives in Bangladesh’s capital have arrested two suspected Islamists involving last week’s slaying of a secular blogger.
Muntasirul Islam, a spokesperson of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said on Friday they arrested Ansarullah Bangla Team’s suspected members Saad-al-Nahin and Masud Rana in separate raids in the capital city on Thursday evening. The group is blamed for promoting extreme interpretations of Islam and creating militants who want to wage jihad for establishing sharia law in Bangladesh.
The 28-year-old blogger Niladri Chottopadhay Niloy was hacked to death by at least four suspected militants who entered an apartment building posing as potential tenants. It was the fourth such attack in the country, raising alarm that authorities are failing to properly investigate the previous incidents and protect the people who are under threat.
Police are hesitant to provide details on the latest arrests but media reports said Nahin was previously arrested in 2013 for attamepting to kill another secular blogger Asif Mohiuddin who survived the attack in Dhaka’s Uttara Model Town area. Nahin was freed on bail on August 7 and his father claims his son was innocent. Little information was available for another detainee Rana who was arrested from Dhaka’s Mirpur area.
It was not clear whether Nahin and Rana were directly involved in the latest attack.
The Detective Branch of Police is investigating the case as police in Dhaka’s Khilgaon Station has handed over the case to detectives following a murder case filed by Niloy’s wife, Asha Moni. Four unnamed persons have been made accused.
Niloy used an online name of Niloy Chowdhury while had a Facebook account “Niloy Neel” where he almost regularly criticised hard line religious views.
On the day of the attack a radical group, Ansar-al-Islam, in an email message sent to media houses claimed responsibility of the attack but the message could not be independently verified. Intelligence says the message came from southeastern city of Chittagong.
Niloy’s killing is the fourth of a secular blogger since February.
Bangladeshi-American man Avijit Roy was hacked to death in February in Dhaka while his wife was also severely injured.
Two others were attacked and killed in March and April, but investigation into the cases has little progress.
Niloy’s wife said earlier her husband went to two police stations to file a complaint after he was followed by two men on streets, but police did not take his complaint, rather asked him to leave the country for his safety.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s police chief’s recent statement that bloggers must not cross the limit when they write about religion has drawn criticism in social media.