Ananta Bijoy Das, a Bangladeshi blogger who advocated secularism, was murdered by machete-wielding attackers on Tuesday.
Das is Bangladesh's third online critic of religious extremism to be killed over the last three months. He wrote for "Mukto Mona", or "Free Mind", a website opposed to fundamentalism. The website describes itself as "an Internet congregation of freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, atheists & humanists of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent who are scattered across the globe."
The website was founded by the U.S.-based blogger Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death in February in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, while leaving a book fair. Washiqur Rahman, a 27-year-old atheist who posted articles denouncing extremism on Facebook, was killed in March.
Police officials confirmed Das' murder on Tuesday to Reuters and the Guardian, but did not comment on the motive for the killing. Das was murdered on his way to his job at a bank in the city of Sylhet, the Guardian reported.
Bangladesh has a predominantly Muslim population but its government is secular. The government has tried to crack down on Islamists in recent years – Bangladesh's high court banned Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's main Islamist party, in 2013.
However, Jamaat's supporters said the ruling was a political move to quash the government's opponents in the lead-up to the 2014 election. And Bangladeshi journalists who criticize Prime Minister Sheikha Hasina and her government face harassment and legal action, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In March, authorities arrested Farabi Shafiur Rahman for the murder of Roy. Rahman had ties to the extremist Hizbut Tahrir Islamist group and had confessed to the murder whiled being interrogated, Reuters reported.