A Bangladeshi law student who posted against Islamism on his Facebook page has been murdered, police said Thursday, the latest in a series of killings of secular activists and bloggers in the country.
Nazimuddin Samad, a 26-year-old atheist who had taken part in protests against Islamist leaders, was attacked late on Wednesday near his university in Dhaka by unknown assailants carrying machetes.
“They hacked his head with a machete. As he fell down, one of them shot him in the head with a pistol from close range. He died on the spot,” deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Syed Nurul Islam told AFP.
“It is a case of targeted killing. But no group has claimed responsibility,” Islam said, adding police were investigating whether Samad was murdered for his writing.
Police said the attackers followed Samad home from an evening class on Wednesday before they attacked him on a busy road near Dhaka’s Jagannath University, where he was a law student, reportedly shouting Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest).
It was the sixth such killing in 15 months and sparked protests in Dhaka, where more than 1,000 students blocked a busy road to demand the attackers be brought to justice.
“You just can’t kill a man just because he is an atheist,” one protester shouted.
No one has yet been prosecuted for the murders of four atheist bloggers and a secular publisher hacked to death last year, although police have arrested members of a banned group called the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).
Rights group Amnesty International said Samad’s killing was a “blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression”, urging Bangladesh to take action to end the violence.
Imran Sarker, who leads Bangladesh’s largest online secular activist group, said Samad’s name was on a list of 84 atheist campaigners that a hardline Islamist group had sent to the home ministry in 2013.
Samad had joined nationwide protests that year against top Islamist leaders accused of committing war crimes during the country’s war of independence, and is the fifth person on the list to be killed.
“He was a secular online activist and a loud voice against any social injustice. He was against Islamic fundamentalism,” said Sarker, head of the Bangladesh Bloggers Association.