A Bangladeshi publisher, who worked with slain atheist writer and blogger Avijit Roy, was on Saturday hacked to death by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, shortly after two secular bloggers and another publisher of Roy were attacked in a separate incident.
Faisal Arefin Dipan, 43, was killed in his third-floor office in central Dhaka locality of Shabagh, very near the venue of months of demonstrations demanding capital punishment for Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and other fundamentalists who had collaborated with Pakistani troops during Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971.
"Dipan died of stab wounds on the shoulder," Muntasirul Islam, spokesperson of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said. Bangladesh police headquarters spokesman Nazrul Islam told PTI that Dipan was slaughtered and he died instantly.
Dipan's father Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, himself a noted intellectual and writer, said "I saw him (Ripan) lying upside down in a pool of blood. He is dead."
He said those who opposed free speech were behind his son's murder. Witnesses said sound of firing was also heard from the supermarket. The killing of Dipan came just hours after unidentified assailants attacked two secular writers and another publisher of US national Roy's books, leaving one of them in a critical condition, according to the police.
There was a common pattern in the both the attacks on Saturday with the perpetrators locking the victims inside their offices before carrying out the crimes. Roy was hacked to death near a book fair here on February 26 this year, the first in a series of attacks this year that have targeted atheist and secular bloggers in Bangladesh, leaving five dead.
Dipan owned Jagritee Prakasany (Publishers) whose office is located at Aziz Supermarket. Dipan's father told journalists after the murder that those who have targeted those promoting free speech might be behind the attack.
The attack on Dipan came on a day when Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, another publisher of Roy's books, was also hacked by unidentified persons at his office in Lalmatia locality at around 2:30 pm.
Dipan was working in our office on the second floor of this building, said Alauddin, manager of Jagriti Prokashony who was working in the other office of the publishing firm on the first floor of the same building, said.
As Dipan did not respond to Alauddin's phone calls, the latter went up to the second floor found him lying there in a pool of blood, he said. On being informed, police took Dipan to DhakaMedicalCollegeHospital where doctors declared him dead, Muntasirul Islam said.
Earlier in the day, three secular bloggers, including Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, a another publisher of Roy, were hacked in the Bangladeshi capital by unidentified attackers.
Tutul, 43, Ranadipam Basu, 50, and Tareque Rahim, 30, were taken to hospital with serious injuries after they were hacked at the office of Shuddhaswar publications.
"We sent them to the DhakaMedicalCollegeHospital for treatment," an officer of the nearby Lalmatia police station told PTI. A resident of the building told reporters that the assailants also fired gunshots though the police said victims' wounds were caused by knife attacks.
"The condition Tutul is critical," doctors at the hospital said. Tutul, who runs Shuddhaswar publications, had lodged a complaint with police after receiving death threats on Facebook following Roy's murder in February this year.
Four secularist bloggers have been killed by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh this year. Roy was hacked to death by unidentified assailants on February 26. Blogger Washiqur Rahman was murdered in central Dhaka on March 30. Writer and blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed in a similar attack in northeastern city of Sylhet on May 12.
On August 7, attackers entered the apartment of blogger Niladri Niloy Chattapadhay and hacked him to death. Ansar Al Islam, a radical group linked to Al Qaeda, had claimed responsibility for the killings on social media, calling the victims enemies of Islam and Allah.