Another Bangladeshi secularist blogger has been hacked to death in the capital Dhaka, according to police reports, making it the fourth such attack this year. Niloy Neel was attacked by a gang armed with machetes in his home in the capital's Goran neighbourhood on 7 August, according to the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network.

Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladeshi branch of al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent, claimed responsibility for the murder, calling Neel "an enemy of Allah".

The network's head Imran H Sarkar told AFP that the assailants entered Neel's room "shoved his friend aside and then hacked [Neel] to death". He added that Neel was on an Islamist militant blacklist as a possible target. According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Neel was decapitated and his hands had been cut off.

Police said six attackers pretended to be looking to rent a flat and managed to break in. "Two of them then took him to a room and then slaughtered him there. His wife was in the flat but she was confined to another room," deputy police commissioner Muntashirul Islam told AFP.

About Niloy Neel

  • Neel was member of a Science and Rationalist Association.
  • Neel completed a Masters in Philosophy from Dhaka University in 2013, before working for an NGO.
  • Neel posted about his atheist views on Facebook, and joined the movement against Islamists in the country.

The IHEU said that Neel claimed in May on Facebook that he had been followed after a public protest meeting to demand justice for the blogger Ananta Bijoy Das, who has hacked to death by machete-wielding masked thugs.

According to Imran Sarker, head of the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, Das was "an atheist and wrote blogs for Mukto-Mona" (free-mind) a website once moderated by Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-born US writer who was hacked to death in the capital Dhaka in February."

The writer was chased down by four masked assailants before being stabbed to death. A friend of Das said the blogger received death threats from extremists for his writings. "He was on their hit list," Debasish Debu told AFP.

In March another blogger, 27-year-old Washiqur Rahman, described as a "progressive freethinker", was hacked to death in the capital Dhaka. At the time of that killing, Sarker told IBTimes UK that bloggers are the most exposed and targeted by fanatics in the Muslim-majority nation because they dare to "raise their voice in the interests of society against injustice and extremism".

Avijit Roy was killed when he was returning with his wife Rafida Ahmed from the book fair held every February. He had received several death threats from Islamists for his writings on religion and science.

He described himself on his Facebook page as a writer by passion: "I have profound interest in freethinking, skepticism, philosophy, scientific thoughts and human rights of people. I write in the internet blogs (mainly in Mukto-Mona) and occasionally in some newspapers covering my interests."

He wrote about 10 books, including Biswasher Virus (Virus of Faith), his most well-known work.