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Secular Student Activist Slain in Bangladesh

  • Wayne Lee

Bangladeshi police officers are seen investigating at the location where three motorcycle-riding assailants attacked secular student activist Nazimuddin Samad, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 7, 2016.

Bangladeshi police officers are seen investigating at the location where three motorcycle-riding assailants attacked secular student activist Nazimuddin Samad, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 7, 2016.

A Bangladeshi student activist has been brutally killed in Dhaka by group of machete-wielding attackers.

Postgraduate law student Nazimuddin Samad was hacked with machetes and then shot by motorcycle-riding assailants as he was returning from class Wednesday at Jagannath University.

Dhaka police said they thought Samad was targeted for his outspoken views. He often criticized radical Islam and promoted secularism in the Muslim-majority country.

Police said no one had been arrested and no group immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, but they said people heard the attackers shouting “Allahu akbar” ("God is great") as they fled the scene.

Samad’s slaying followed a series of similar attacks last year, when at least five secular writers and a publisher were killed. A banned Islamist militant group claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.

Samad was on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that a radical Islamist group compiled and sent to Bangladesh’s Interior Ministry.

Bangladeshi students are seen protesting the murder of secular student activist Nazimuddin Samad as they call on police to find those responsible, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 7, 2016.

Bangladeshi students are seen protesting the murder of secular student activist Nazimuddin Samad as they call on police to find those responsible, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 7, 2016.

Hundreds of students at the university where Samad studied protested his killing, demanding the prompt arrest of those responsible.

Some international proponents of freedom of expression said the ongoing attacks show the Bangladeshi government is failing to protect its people.

“One by one, the critical voices are being silenced forever, at a time that I would say that the country needs these voices more than ever,” Sumit Galhotra of the Committee to Protect Journalists told VOA's Bangla service. “With every passing death, the government continues to watch on, and we are not seeing any indication that government is taking any steps to address this violence."

VOA's Bangla service contributed to this report.

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