Photojournalist Arrested Over Blogger's Killing in Bangladesh

Anisur Rahman/Dhaka
Photojournalist Arrested Over Blogger's Killing in Bangladesh

A Bangladeshi photojournalist has been arrested over his alleged role in the murder of an "atheist" blogger who was hacked to death last month by masked machete-wielding assailants, police said today.

"A team of CID (criminal investigation department) arrested him as a suspect," M Rokonuddin, additional police commissioner of northeastern Sylhet, where Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death, told PTI.

He said photographer Idris Ali, who works for a national and a Sylhet daily, was remanded into police custody for seven days for interrogation on orders of a court there. Later, he was brought to the CID headquarters here under security.

CID's senior superintendent Abdullah Hell Baki said here that Ali was under surveillance ahead of his arrest, but refused to elaborate, saying: "I can't tell you much about his links until we interrogate him".

"We are awaiting the suspect to reach here later this evening," he said.

33-year old Das, a banker by profession, was the latest of three secular bloggers hacked to death this year by suspected Islamists after machete-wielding militants attacked him last month.

In a related development, Bangladesh overnight banned Islamist outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), suspecting its involvement in murders of several secular bloggers in recent months and over alleged links to al-Qaeda.

The ban came as 10 prominent Bangladeshis, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's advisor H T Imam, vice chancellor of premier Dhaka University Professor Arefin Siddique and popular writer and physicist Professor Zafar Iqbal earlier this week received death threats in letters.

Police suspected the ABT to have sent the letters in the name of "Alkaida".

International security think-tank Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) described ABT as an "al-Qaeda- inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started its activities during 2007 as the Jama'atul Muslimin".

ABT is the sixth such Bangladesh-based outfits to be outlawed for militant and anti-state activities in the country, the rest being Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Harkat-ul Jihad Bangladesh (HuJi), Jagrata Muslim Janata of Bangladesh and Shahadat-e-al-Hikma.

Police earlier said they detained four ABT activists who gave confessional statements in connection of the February 2013 murder of the first of the slain bloggers Rajib Haider, while investigators found the outfit's links to the killing of Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy in February this year.

Hours after the murder, a group called 'Ansar Al-Islam' claimed in a tweet that AQIS was responsible for Das's murder and warned that more such "atheists" awaited the identical fate.

Bangladesh earlier welcomed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assistance after Roy was murdered in Dhaka in February.

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