On June 24, 2004, an unidentified assailant threw bombs at Humayun Kabir, editor of the Bangla-language daily Janmabhumi, while he was outside his home in the southwestern Bangladeshi city of Khulna with his family, killing him, according to local news reports.
Witnesses told the English-language Daily Star that the assailant, posing as a peanut seller, approached Kabir and tossed at least two homemade bombs at him, critically injuring him in the abdomen and the legs. Kabir was taken to Khulna Medical College Hospital and died soon thereafter. Kabir’s son Asif also suffered minor injuries on his legs and was treated at a local clinic.
An underground leftist group known as Janajuddha (People’s War), a faction of the Purbo Banglar Communist Party, claimed responsibility for the killing in phone calls to several local newspapers and journalists the day of the murder, according to local journalists.
Kabir, 58, was a veteran journalist and the president of the Khulna Press Club. He published bold articles criticizing organized crime groups in Bangladesh’s southwestern region. After his friend and fellow journalist Manik Saha was killed in a similar attack earlier in 2004, Kabir criticized the criminal groups implicated in Saha’s killing. Janajuddha also claimed responsibility for killing Saha.
Kabir had recently received death threats, according to local news reports.
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and other high-ranking government officials condemned Kabir’s murder and pledged to find and punish those responsible. Local journalist groups spoke out against the killing and called for a week of mourning.
Shortly after the attack, local police said they detained nine suspects, the BBC reported.
Two other suspects in the case, leaders of the Janajuddha faction, died in separate shootouts with police in late August 2004. Authorities accuse the deceased suspects–Altaf Hossain and Imam Sarder–of involvement in Kabir’s killing and say they were also responsible for killing Saha, according to local news reports.
In 2008, seven of the accused were acquitted, according to the Daily Star. On January 18, 2021, a court in Khulna sentenced five people to life in prison and fined them 10,000 Takas (US $118) for their involvement in the killing, according to that report, which identified the five as Syed Iqbal Hossain, Zahid Hossain, Nazul, Masum, and Rimon, and noted that Masum had absconded at the time of the sentencing.