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Attack on Bangladeshi Sci-Fi writer bears hallmark of militant outfit

Officials says a stabbing attack on Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, an outspoken opponent of militancy and communalism, may be the work of Islamist militants.


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Updated: March 5, 2018

A day after a popular Bangladeshi science fiction writer Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal was stabbed, counter-terrorism officials say the attack bears the hallmarks of the banned Ansar al Islam militant outfit.

Prof Iqbal, an outspoken opponent of militancy and communalism was on the hitlist of the outfit.

The writer was attending a programme organised by the electronic and electrical engineering department of the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology when he was attacked.

Prof Iqbal is said to be out of danger and is recovering in the ICU.

Counterterrorism officials say the attacker, Foyzur Rahman, 25, could be a member of banned militant outfit Ansar al Islam, the Daily Star reported. He was caught by students after he stabbed the professor on his head from behind.

Rahman told the Rapid Action Battalion that he considered Prof Iqbal an enemy of Islam. He used a commando knife for the attack, which is mentioned in the outfit’s literature titled “easy strategy for killing”.

“Similar knives were recovered earlier in the outfit’s dens,” an official told the Daily Star.

Earlier known as Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), Ansar al Islam began gaining strength in 2013-14 and started selecting targets by monitoring social media.

The government banned ABT in May 2015 but the radical group had by that time claimed responsibility for 13 attacks in which 11 individuals including writers and bloggers, one publisher and two LGBT activists were killed.

Prof Iqbal was among 15 eminent persons mentioned in a Ansar al Islam’s hit list recovered by law enforcement in 2017. A case has been filed against Foyzur and five other unnamed people.

Prof Iqbal was flown to Dhaka following the attack. He sustained four small injuries in the back of his head, one in his back and another in the left hand.



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Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

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