Islamist group banned in Bangladesh after blogger killings

Published May 26, 2015
Police had also earlier charged ABT members with the 2013 murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider.—AFP/File
Police had also earlier charged ABT members with the 2013 murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider.—AFP/File

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Monday banned a militant group suspected of involvement in the murder of atheist bloggers that sparked protests in Dhaka and outrage around the world, an official said.

The Home Ministry’s move to outlaw the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) comes almost a week after police asked the government to ban the group, suspecting it of being behind the deaths of three bloggers this year.

Police had also earlier charged ABT members with the 2013 murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider.

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“The (junior home minister) today signed a government order, outlawing the militant organisation Ansarullah Bangla Team,” said Sharif Mahmud, a ministry spokesman.

A police spokesman said last week that initial police findings implicated ABT in the recent killings of bloggers, including Ananta Bijoy Das, who was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers on his way to work.

The 33-year-old was the third secular blogger to be killed in the country since February when Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy, a writer and moderator of a blog site, was hacked to death in Dhaka.

Fellow writers said Mr Das was on a hit-list drawn up by militants who were behind Mr Roy’s killing.

No one has yet been charged over Mr Das’s death, but his brother has filed a criminal case saying he was murdered by an “extremist fanatic group”.

Hours after Mr Das’s murder, a group called Ansar Al Islam said on Twitter that Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (Aqis) was responsible for the killing and warned of more to come.

ABT is the sixth Islamist group to be banned in the country, which has seen a rise in attacks by religious extremists in recent years.

Aqis previously claimed responsibility for the Feb 26 attack in Dhaka that killed Mr Roy and also badly injured his wife. A suspect has been arrested over his murder but not formally charged.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2015

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