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World

Atheist Blogger Slain By Extremists In Bangladesh

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Bangladesh today, another well-known secular blogger was murdered. This is the fourth such killing this year. Police say the 40-year-old activist was hacked to death by assailants in his home in the capital Dhaka. NPR's Julie McCarthy has more.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: Four to five unidentified men entered blogger Niloy Chakrabarti Neel's fifth floor apartment following Friday prayers, according to police, pushed his wife aside and butchered him.

Imran Sarker, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, called Neel a voice for the oppressed, who advocated women's rights as he denounced extremism. Sarker told NPR that Neel had been on a hit list and been targeted on social media by Islamist fundamentalists. The three other bloggers slain this year were similarly targeted. Bangladeshi-born U.S. citizen Avijit Roy, a renowned writer and activist, was killed in February.

In majority-Muslim Bangladesh, tensions are seething between secularists opposed to extremism and fundamentalists who label secular bloggers as atheists. Deepening the divisions are death sentences recently given to Islamist fundamentalists for offenses dating as far back as Bangladesh' 1971 war of independence. Today's victim, Niloy Neel, a Hindu, told police he felt his life was in danger and requested protection weeks before he was killed. Julie McCarthy, NPR News, New Delhi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.