Bangladesh bans Islamist group accused of blogger attacks

Activists protest against the killing of Bangladeshi blogger Ananta Bijoy Das in Dhaka (12 May 2015) Image copyright EPA
Image caption The murders of the bloggers have triggered large scale protests across Bangladesh

Bangladesh has banned an Islamist militant group accused of attacking and killing three secular bloggers, the interior ministry has said.

Its move to outlaw the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) comes after police called for the group to be banned.

All three bloggers were hacked to death with sharp weapons earlier this year.

The attacks have led to big protests from activists who have accused the authorities of failing to protect critics of religious bigotry.

Police said last week that preliminary investigations implicated the the ABT in the three bloggers' murders.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ananta Bijoy Das was stabbed to death in the street - in daylight, on his way to work in a bank

They pointed to the similarities in the way all three bloggers were killed.

In each case, the attackers carried out their assaults on a busy street.

Death threats to secular bloggers are on the rise in Bangladesh. A few years back, hard-line Islamists demanded a blasphemy law to stop bloggers they perceived as being anti-Islamic from writing about Islam.

The first blogger to be killed - in February - was Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death in the capital, Dhaka.

In March, another blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was also hacked to death in Dhaka.

Bangladesh is officially a secular country but more than 90% of its 160 million population are Muslim.

The ABT is the sixth Islamist militant group to be banned.

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