Deadly attacks claimed by radical Islamists in Bangladesh

The secular South Asian nation of Bangladesh has been hit by a series of murders this year claimed by radical Islamist groups, testing the government’s assurances that it is controlling the spread of extremism among its mostly Muslim population. Following is a list of the attacks.

— Feb 27: At least two assailants attack Bangladeshi-American blogger and writer Avijit Roy with meat cleavers, killing him and injuring his wife in a crowded street in Dhaka. A previously unknown militant group, Ansar Bangla 7, which intelligence officials believe to be part of the banned Ansarullah Bangla Team, claimed responsibility. At least four suspects have been arrested, including a top Ansarullah leader and financier, as part of an investigation aided by the FBI.

— March 30: Three men using meat cleavers hack 26-year-old blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu to death in Dhaka. Bystanders chase down two of the attackers and recover three meat cleavers, but the third suspect escapes. The captured suspects say they are students at two separate Islamic schools and were “ordered” to commit the crime. But police say they have been unable to determine who might have given such an order.

— May 12: Four men wielding meat cleavers kill online activist and atheist blogger and science magazine editor Ananta Bijoy Das as he leaves his home in northeastern city of Sylhet. A few days later, police arrest a local newspaper photographer and two others. Investigators suggest the nature of attack shows the same group, Ansarullah, was behind the killing. Al-Qaida on the Indian subcontinent, which is believed to be affiliated with Ansarullah, claims responsibility.

— Aug. 8: A fourth blogger, Niloy Chottopadhay, is killed when suspected militants, posing as potential tenants, enter his Dhaka apartment and assault him with cleavers. Ansarullah Bangla Team claims responsibility in an email sent to media organizations, though the authenticity of the email has not been confirmed.

— Sept. 28: Three unidentified assailants, riding on a single motorcycle, gun down Italian citizen Cesare Tavella in the diplomatic quarter of Dhaka. The militant Sunni extremist group Islamic State claims responsibility according to the terror threat monitoring group SITE, but the claim remains unconfirmed. Police have no other leads.

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