Four unidentified assailants wielding cleavers and machetes hacked Ananta Bijoy Das to death on a busy street as the blogger was heading to work in the city of Sylhet, according to news reports. Kamrul Hasan, commissioner of Sylhet police, told local journalists that the four assailants fled the scene.
Das had contributed to the blog Mukto Mona–the blog founded by Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy, who was killed in early 2015–and was also the editor of a quarterly scientific magazine named Jukti (Reason), the reports said. He had also written numerous books, one on evolution. Das, who worked for a bank as his day job, had mainly written on science. He had also been critical of religious fundamentalism and previous attacks on secular thinkers in his writing, CNN reported.
According to news reports which cited Imran Sarker, head of an organization of secular bloggers, Das was also an activist during the 2013 Shahbag movement, which called for the death penalty for leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party who were on trial for war crimes.
The day before he was killed, Das wrote a post on Facebook in which he criticized police for their handling of the investigation into the murders of Bangladeshi bloggers Roy and Washiqur Rahman Babu, according to The Associated Press.
Das’s murder came just weeks after the attack on Babu, who was hacked to death in the street on March 30, 2015. In February 2015, Roy and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, were attacked by assailants wielding sharp weapons while the couple was visiting Dhaka, according to news reports. Roy, a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was killed and his wife was critically injured.
In early May 2015, an Al-Qaeda branch claimed responsibility for the attack on Roy and his wife as well as for the 2013 murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in a video posted online, according to reports. The video also urged followers to carry out other such attacks against “blasphemers.”
Debasish Debu, a friend of Das, told journalists that the blogger had received threats for his writing and that the frequency of threats increased after the attack on Roy.
Police said they were investigating the murder, but no immediate arrests were made, news reports said. On May 13, 2015, The New York Times reported that Islamist extremists claimed responsibility for Das’s murder.