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US Offers Help in Bangladesh Blogger’s Murder Probe

FILE - People carry portraits of student activist Nazimuddin Samad as they attend a rally to demand arrest of three motorcycle-riding assailants who hacked and shot Samad to death, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 8, 2016.

The United States has offered its resources and expertise to the Bangladeshi government as Dhaka investigates the latest in a series of murders of secular bloggers in the Muslim-majority country.

"We've offered assistance to the Bangladeshi government, collaboration on the investigations, FBI assistance," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday in Washington.

He was commenting after last week’s killing of Nazimuddin Samad, a blogger and postgraduate student who often criticized radical Islam and promoted secularism in Bangladesh.

"These are horrific attacks. We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to take them very seriously," Toner added.

International defenders of freedom of expression have accused the Bangladeshi government of not doing enough to stop the attacks. At least six bloggers and a secular publisher have been killed since 2013.

A Bangladeshi government official has said a domestic militant group may be responsible for Samad's murder, although a group affiliated with al-Qaida has claimed responsibility.

Samad was hacked with machetes and shot by motorcycle-riding assailants as he returned from class at Jagannath University in Dhaka. No arrests have been made, but police said people heard the attackers shouting, "Allahu Akbar," meaning “God is great,” as they fled the scene.

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