Bangladeshi secular writer Shahzahan Bachchu shot dead in Munshiganj district; had received threats from extremists in the past

Dhaka: A prominent Bangladeshi writer and publisher was shot dead by unidentified attackers in central Bangladesh, ending the brief lull in the killings of secular bloggers and activists in the Muslim-majority country.

Bangladeshi blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed in 2015. AFP

Bangladeshi blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed in 2015. AFP

Shahzahan Bachchu (60), an outspoken proponent of secular principles and owner of publishing house Bishaka Prokashoni that specialised in poetry, was gunned down in his ancestral village Kakaldi in Munshiganj district on Monday evening by five assailants.

Bachchu had gone to meet friends at a pharmacy near his house before iftar when the five attackers on two motorcycles arrived. They detonated a crude bomb outside the pharmacy and created panic, the Dhaka Tribune reported. They then dragged Bachchu out of the shop and shot him, a senior superintendent of police was quoted as saying.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the murder, police officials from the counter-terrorism department are investigating the murder as a possible targeted attack by Islamist extremists.

Bachchu had previously received threats from extremist groups for his outspoken support for secularism. He was a former district general secretary of the Communist Party of Bangladesh and was known as a free-thinking writer. His publishing house is based in Dhaka's Banglabazar area.

Deaths of secular writers, bloggers, online activists and a publisher in attacks by suspected Islamist militants shook Bangladesh for months after the murder of atheist writer and blogger Avijit Roy in Dhaka on 26 February, 2015. Roy's publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan was also hacked to death on 31 October the same year. Militant groups claimed responsibility for most of these attacks, and law enforcers arrested many radical Islamists in connection with the attacks.

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Updated Date: Jun 12, 2018 13:29:09 IST

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