Dhaka: Bangladesh today banned an Islamist militant outfit that is believed to be behind the gruesome hacking deaths of three secular bloggers in recent months that have evoked outrage in the country and across the globe.
The Bangladesh government banned Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) for its militant and anti-state activities with the home ministry publishing a circular in this regard. It is the sixth such organisation to be outlawed for militant activities.
The ban comes at a time when three bloggers and writers have been killed in less than three months.
Earlier this month, machete-wielding masked men hacked to death 33-year-old Ananta Bijoy Das, a secular blogger, in Sylhet city.
Assailants in February had killed 45-year old Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-born US national, here while his wife narrowly escaped the attack.
A month after Roy's killing, another blogger Washiqur Rahman was murdered in similar fashion in Dhaka but people in the neighbourhood nabbed two suspected killers from the scene and handed them over to police.
Police has so far arrested several activists of Ansarullah Bangla Team in connection with the murders.
Investigators earlier said they suspected that the outfit was closely linked to al-Qaeda.
Das' murder was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
The terror group made the claim in a post on justpaste.it and Ansarullah Bangla Team tweeted a link to the post.
Ansarullah Bangla Team is the sixth organisation to be outlawed in Bangladesh with the other five being, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Harkatul Jihad Bangladesh (Huji), Jagrata Muslim Janata of Bangladesh and Shahadat-e Al-Hikma.
Four members of ABT outfit have given confessional statements in blogger Rajib Haider murder case. Haider was the first victim of the suspected Islamists who killed him in 2013.
Police claim that during investigation they found ABT's involvement in Roy's killing.
Police say militant outfits are behind the murders but have failed to arrest the killers or dismantle the outfits, Bangladesh media reported.
Of the banned outfits, Hizb ut-Tahrir, JMB and Huji are still active in the country.