Four suspected members of Islamist Ansarullah Bangla Team have now been arrested in connection with killing of Niloy Chakrabarti.
Bangladesh police on Thursday arrested two suspected members of a banned Islamist group over the brutal killing of an atheist blogger, an official said.
Niloy Chakrabarti was hacked to death at his home in Dhaka earlier this month by a gang of men, the fourth murder of a secular blogger in Bangladesh this year.
Police said Kausar Hossain Khan, 29, and Kamal Hossain Sardar, 29, were arrested as a hunt for blogger killers was stepped up after a public outcry over a lack of progress in the investigation into the murders. “The two are suspected members of the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT),” Dhaka police spokesman Munstashirul Islam told AFP, referring to a banned Islamic militant group blamed for the murders of the atheist bloggers.
“They are suspects in the murder of Niloy [Chakrabarti],” he said, adding the two were also charged in the attempted murder of another atheist blogger, Asif Mohiuddin, in January 2013. Mohiuddin has since left the country for Germany.
Four suspected members of ABT have now been arrested over the murder of Chakrabarti, 30, who was a vocal critic of religious fundamentalism in the Muslim-majority country.
Chakrabarti was the fourth secular blogger to be killed since February when Bangladeshi-born U.S. citizen Avijit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka.
Earlier this month police arrested Saad-al-Nahin and Masum Rana in Dhaka, and said that both men had confessed to being members of the hardline Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), one of the groups that have claimed responsibility for the murder. Nahin also faces a charge of attempted murder relating to the attack on Mohiuddin. He was on bail when he was arrested.
Also last week police arrested three other suspected members of the ABT, including a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin, over the murders of Roy and another blogger, Ananta Bijoy Das.
Bangladesh has been criticized for failing to do enough to protect its secular bloggers. Activists expressed outrage this month when the country’s national police chief A. K. M. Shahidul Hoque warned bloggers they might face jail for posting material deemed offensive following Chakrabarti’s murder.
The arrests came hours after an announcement that a U.N. Special Rapporteur would carry out an official visit to Bangladesh from next week to assess the state of freedom of religion and belief in the country.