Dhaka: Five militants of an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group in Bangladesh were today charged with murder for hacking to death an atheist blogger who is among the four secular writers killed in brutal attacks this year.
"We have submitted the chargesheet before the (Dhaka's) chief metropolitan magistrate court on the blogger Washiqur Rahman's killing...They all are members of (banned) Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT)," a police spokesman told reporters.
He said two of the accused were now in jail to face trial in person while the three others were absconding and were to be tried in absentia unless they surrender or could be arrested.
27-year-old Rahman was hacked to death on March 30 when ABT militants attacked him with machetes.
Transgenders living near the place where the incident took place nabbed two of the killers and handed them over to police.
The two, who are in their mid 20s, were students of a madarsa in northeastern Chittagong. They later told police that their spiritual leader ordered them to kill the "atheist" blogger for his write-ups.
Today's development came two weeks after elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said they arrested a Bangladeshi- origin British national and two others as suspected assassins of another two secular bloggers -- Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das -- who were killed earlier this year also by ABT militants.
Roy, 45, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, was hacked to death on a street near an annual book fair venue in the capital in February this year while 33-year-old Das was killed in northeastern Sylhet in May.
Another secular blogger Niloy Neel was killed earlier this month, the fourth murder of a blogger this year, after the hacking to death of Roy, Das and Rahman.
The murders of secular bloggers sparked international outrage with the UN, the US and Britain expressing concern against shrinking space for free thought.
Bloggers have said their slain friends wrote nothing which could hurt anyone in that way and extremists were trying to create space for themselves using religion.