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US-Bangladesh blogger Avijit Roy hacked to death

A knife-wielding mob has hacked to death a US-Bangladeshi blogger whose writing on religion had brought threats from Islamist hardliners.

Avijit Roy, an atheist who advocated secularism, was attacked in Dhaka as he walked back from a book fair with his wife, who was hurt in the attack.

No-one has been arrested but police say they are investigating a local Islamist group that praised the killing.

Hundreds of students gathered in Dhaka to mourn the blogger’s death.

Mr Roy’s family say he had received threats after publishing articles promoting secular views, science and social issues on his Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona, or Free Mind.

He defended atheism in a recent Facebook post, calling it “a rational concept to oppose any unscientific and irrational belief”.

The website was inaccessible on Friday. The killing in early 2013 of another secular blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, which was blamed on religious hardliners, sparked protests from free-speech supporters and counter-protests from Islamists.

The police said the attack on Mr Roy was similar to the 2013 murder.

A group of men ambushed the couple, who live in the US and were visiting Dhaka only to attend the book festival, as they walked toward a roadside tea stall. At least two of the attackers hit them with meat cleavers, police chief Sirajul Islam told the AP news agency.

The attackers dropped their weapons and ran away, disappearing into the crowds.

The police told the BBC they were investigating a local hard-line religious group that had praised the killing in an online message.

Death threats against atheist writers and bloggers are nothing new in Bangladesh.

Prominent writer Taslima Nasreen had to leave Bangladesh after she received death threats from hard-line Islamists in the mid-1990s.

She wrote on her blog: “Avijit Roy has been killed the way other free thinker writers were killed in Bangladesh. No freethinker is safe in Bangladesh.

“Islamic terrorists can do whatever they like. They can kill people with no qualms whatsoever.” (BBC)

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