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Blogger in Bangladesh hacked to death; third this year

By Andrew V. Pestano

SYLHET, Bangladesh, May 12 (UPI) -- A blogger in Bangladesh has been hacked to death by four masked gang men armed with machetes and cleavers on Tuesday, the third attack of the kind this year.

The attack happened as Ananta Bijoy Das, 32, left his home in the northeastern city of Sylhet. There were few witnesses in the early morning attack.

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At least three people have been publicly killed this year for online posts criticizing Islam. Das was an atheist who worked for a blog founded by Avijit Roy, who was also hacked to death in a machete attack in February while visiting Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Roy previously lived in Atlanta, Ga.

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"It's one after another after another," Imran Sarker, head of the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, told CNN. "It's the same scenario again and again. It's very troubling."

Four men in Dhaka, Bangladesh, were charged in late March with the death of blogger Washiqur Rahman, who they believed insulted Islam in his writings.

Rahman, 27, was killed on a Dhaka street by assailants armed with knives, who accused him of defaming Islam in his social media postings. Two of the alleged attackers, each a student at a religious school in Chittagong with known links to the conservative Hefazat-e-Islam group, were held by bystanders until police arrived.

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Although Bangladesh is officially a secular country, the population of 160 million is overwhelmingly Muslim, and the country has seen an increase in extreme Islamist ideologies.

The conservative Hefazat-e-Islam organization led protests against secular bloggers in 2013, in which nearly 50 people died, and police led a crackdown on demonstrators demanding death for defamers of Islam.

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