DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A court in Bangladesh's capital on Sunday indicted eight suspected Islamist militants tied to a banned group over the 2015 killing of a man who published books on secularism and atheism.
Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal Judge Majibur Rahman read out the charges to six of the suspects, who pleaded not guilty. Another two, including a sacked military official, remained fugitives, but the judge issued arrest warrants for them. Police say they belong to the banned domestic militant outfit Ansar al Islam.
In October 2015, suspected militants hacked Faisal Abedin Deepan of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house. On the same day, another publisher, Ahmed Rashid Tutul, survived an attack by suspected militants in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.
Both victims were publishers of Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Avijit Roy, who was hacked to death in February 2015.
Several other atheists, bloggers and foreigners were killed by suspected militants in 2015. A bomb attack on Oct. 24 of that year in Dhaka aimed at Shia Muslims killed a teenager and injured more than 100 other people. Foreigners including Italian aid volunteer and a Japanese agricultural worker were also killed.
Authorities in Bangladesh say the network of the militant groups has been broken after a massive crackdown following a 2016 attack on a cafe in Dhaka in which 22 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed by five young men who belonged to the Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh group, according to police.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the 2016 attack and other attacks, but Bangladesh's government said that domestic groups were behind them, and that IS has no existence in the country.