RAJSHAHI, Bangladesh, April 23 (UPI) -- An English professor in Bangladesh was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers while on his way to work at a local university.
Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, was killed by several assailants with machetes while waiting for a bus near his home as he was making his way to work to Rajshahi University.
Authorities are investigating whether the Saturday morning slaying was related to a string of similar attacks by fundamentalist Islamic organization Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh targeting atheist bloggers.
"We believe Islamic militants were behind the attack, because the nature of the incident is similar to previous attacks carried out on atheist writers and activists," Deputy Police Commissioner Nahidul Islam said.
Police said the village was known as "a hotbed of JMB millitants" but could not determine whether Siddique had written or spoken against Islam.
Members of the student group Progressive Students Alliance protested Siddique's murder. Hundreds of students blocked the Rajshahi-Dhaka Highway.
Faculty also protested. Abdullah Al Mamun, an associate professor in the English department, said classes would be cancelled in response to the murder.
"The Teachers' Association will boycott all classes in protest against the murder," he said.
Siddique was known for organizing cultural events at the university and had planned to build a music school in his home village, Islam said.
Former student Anima Chowdhury said Siddique had no political links to anything that would have led to this attack.
"He wasn't involved in any issues that can cause this," she said. "It's really mysterious and it was really shocking because we didn't expect something like this could happen to him. I guess we have to wait for the reasons."
The U.S. State Department earlier said it is considering granting refuge to select Bangladeshi bloggers thought to be in "imminent danger" after 26-year-old Bangladeshi law student Nazimuddin Samad was killed at a crowded intersection in a similar attack.
Six other writers connected to atheist writings were shot and stabbed in separate incidents in 2015.