Bangladeshi blogger Niloy Neel
Bangladeshi blogger Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, 40, is seen on a phone in Dhaka Getty

Bangladesh police have arrested two suspects over the murder of secularist blogger Niloy Neel. The two, named as Masud Rana and Saad al-Nahin, are suspected members of the outlawed Bangladeshi Islamist organisation Ansarullah Bangla Team, which has been accused of killing other atheist bloggers in the past, according to police.

Neel was attacked by a gang armed with machetes in his home in the capital's Goran neighbourhood on 7 August. The Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network head Imran H Sarker told AFP 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," said deputy police commissioner Muntashirul Islam.

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". It was the fourth murder of a secular blogger in 2015.

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

In March, 27-year-old blogger 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 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".