Dhaka: Bangladesh has said it will welcome the FBI's assistance in investigating the murder of secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarty Neel who was brutally hacked to death by suspected Al Qaeda linked Islamists here.
"If the FBI wants to assist us in the investigation process, we will welcome it," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters last night, as officials said the US investigating agency conveyed its interest in the case.
Kamal, however, said Bangladeshi investigators "are close to identifying the murderers" who were "religious fanatics".
"I have discussed the matter with IGP and the relevant people. We will catch the killers (and) every team has already hit on the ground," he said.
The 40-year-old blogger was attacked by four suspected Al Qaeda linked Islamists at his apartment here just after the Friday prayers. His body bore around 14 hack wounds four of which were on the neck. The brutality of the attack was such that some of the cuts sliced through his bones.
A senior police officer of Dhaka metropolitan Police said the FBI yesterday proposed its assistance in investigating the murder and "we will ask them soon how they want to help us".
Deputy Commissioner Muntasirul Islam said the FBI officials called up the police and offered their assistance but authorities in Dhaka await a formal proposal in this regard.
A FBI team earlier visited Bangladesh after the murder of writer-blogger Avijit Roy, a naturalised US citizen, in February. Authorities in Dhaka shared the evidence with the US agency obtaining a court order.
As the killing of the blogger was condemned worldwide, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned that her government will not allow politics over religious sentiment.
"At least, this can't be done in Bangladesh, we won't allow this to happen...We will face them with an iron hand," she said at a function in the capital yesterday.
Noting that Islam is a religion of peace, she questioned the belief of the militants, saying "Are they Muslims?"
"Muslims are killing Muslims by carrying out suicide attacks. Also, they are killing people and bloggers for writing against religion," Hasina said, referring to the killings by militants linked to the Al Qaeda.
She vowed to stick to the principle of religious "non-communalism" in Bangladesh.
"Ninety per cent people in Bangladesh are Muslims...But Bangladesh is a non-communal country (and) we are building the country by following that path and we want to continue with it," she said.
Neel is the fourth secular blogger to be killed in the Muslim-dominated Bangladesh since February.
Ansar-Al-Islam, Bangladesh chapter of Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent, had claimed responsibility for killing Neel, terming him an enemy of Allah.