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Bangladesh Arrests 3 in Blogger Slayings


A Bangladeshi activist holds a candle, as they protest against the killing of secular blogger Niladri Chottopadhay Niloy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015.

Bangladeshi authorities say they have arrested three suspected Islamic militants suspected in the killings of two prominent secular bloggers, including one person accused of planning the murders.

A spokesman for Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion Force told reporters Tuesday that they have arrested 58-year-old Touhidur Rahman and two other "active members" of the outlawed Islamist group Ansarullah Bangla Team in Dhaka on Monday.

The RAB says the three detainees are suspected of the killings of U.S. citizen Avijit Roy in February and Ananta Bijoy Das in May.

The two men were hacked to death by attackers wielding machetes earlier this year.

Four deaths

They are two of four secular bloggers who have been hacked to death in Bangladesh since the start of the year.

The RAB spokesman said Rahman, who is 58, told authorities he is a British citizen. Authorities have accused him of being the principal planner and financier of the attack.

The other two detainees have been identified as Sadek Ali and Aminul Mollick.

The Ansarullah Bangla Team was banned in response to the killings.

In February, Bangladeshi-American blogger and writer Avijit Roy, who founded the popular atheist blog “Mukto-Mona” (Free Mind in Bengali,) and was known for his opposition to religious fundamentalism, was hacked to death in Dhaka.

In March, Washiqur Rahman, another blogger known for his views critical of Islam, was killed in a machete attack by three Islamists in the capital.

In May, blogger Ananta Bijoy Das, 33, was killed by a machete-wielding masked gang in the northeastern city of Sylhet while he was on his way to his job at a bank. Police arrested a local photo-journalist as a suspect in June.

The latest killing took place last week, when 40-year-old Niloy Chakrabarti was hacked to death by a gang of attackers on Friday. Police have arrested two men, both suspected members of Ansarullah Bangla Team, in connection with Chakrabarti's murder.