Bangladesh police on Sunday killed a militant with a bounty of Tk 500,000 ($6,374) on his head for murdering secular bloggers, as authorities stepped up their nationwide crackdown on Islamists in the Muslim-majority nation that has seen a string of brutal attacks on minorities and activists.
“We have found out that he was a member of Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and one of the six extremists for whom we earlier announced a bounty of Taka 500,000,” a senior police officer said.
The militant killed in a pre-dawn encounter in Dhaka was named in a police list as Shariful or Sharif, but he previously used several other names like Sakib alias Saleh alias Arif alias Hadi—1.
The officer said Sharif was wanted for the murder of Bangladesh-born American science writer and blogger Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death by several men as he returned from a Dhaka book fair in February last year.
The militant was also believed to have been directly involved in the subsequent killing of another blogger Niladri.
The identification of the alleged militant came hours after police said a “miscreant” was killed in a shootout with police detectives in the capital’s Khilgaon area.
Crossfire kills another suspect
Sharif’s death came a day after another militant, who was arrested four days ago while carrying out an attack on a Hindu college teacher in southwestern Madaripur, was killed in a crossfire.
The 17-year-old, identified as Golam Faizullah Fahim, was killed in the surprise shootout a day after police secured a court order to interrogate him in custody in connection with the murder attempt on Ripan Chakraborty (50), a mathematics lecturer of a government university college in Madaripur.
Bangladesh in recent months has witnessed a series of deadly clandestine attacks on religious minorities and secular and liberal activists.
But Fahim, a student of a college in Dhaka, was the lone assailant to be grabbed by people in the neighborhood. Two other attackers who were with him fled the scene. Chakraborty, who survived the attack, suffered critical head injury.
Islamic State or al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent has claimed most of the attacks. However, authorities have attributed the attacks to home grown militant outfits like JMB and ABT.
Clerics in anti-terrorism fatwa
Over 100,000 Islamic scholars in Bangladesh have issued a fatwa or ruling, declaring militancy and terrorism in the name of Islam as haram (forbidden by Isamic law) while voicing their concern over a wave of brutal slayings of Hindus and secular writers by Islamists in the country.
Maulana Farid Uddin Masud, the chairman of Islamic scholars’ organization Bangladesh Jamiyatul Ulama, pronounced the fatwa at a press conference in Dhaka.
Masud, the imam of Bangladesh’s Sholakia Eidgah, the largest Eid prayer congregation, said “some” of the militants and terrorists were “wrong” to identify themselves as “jihadists.”
“Islam is the religion of peace…Islam doesn’t support terrorism,” he said.
Referring to the Quran and Hadith, he said the suicide attackers will be cast in hell.
“Even taking part in funeral prayers of terrorists, militants, and covert killers is haram. And those killed for their stance against militancy will be martyrs,” he added.