Dhaka: Bangladesh police have arrested the main suspect in the murders of a gay magazine editor and a secular blogger who were brutally killed by militants for writing against radical Islamists in the Muslim majority country.
A joint team of Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit and Detective Branch of Police arrested Rashidun Nabi from a bus station in Sayedabad area in the capital last night, a police spokesman said today.
Nabi is the main suspect in the murder case of Julhash Mannan, the editor of 'Roopban' - the only magazine in Bangladesh advocating gay rights, and blogger Nazimuddin Samad who were killed in April, the spokesman said.
Police claimed that Nabi is an operative of Ansaral al Islam or Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which is said to be ideologically inclined to al-Qaeda.
Nabi was today sent on three-day remand by Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Md Maruf Hossain after police produced him in court with a 10-day remand prayer.
Mannan, 35, a cousin of former foreign minister Dipu Moni and ex-protocol officer of the US embassy, was killed by armed assailants who entered his flat impersonating as courier company officials on April 25.
Nazimuddin, 28, who was a masters student of the state-run Jagannath University's law department, was hacked by machete-wielding militants before being shot dead on April 6.
A day before the murder, he had expressed concerns over the country's law and order in a Facebook post.
He was known to have been critical of state religion in the Bangladeshi constitution.
He had been on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that a group of radical Islamists prepared and sent to Bangladesh's interior ministry.
Bangladesh has seen a spate of gruesome attacks on secular activists, religious minorities, bloggers and foreigners, many of whom have been hacked to death with machetes.
Meanwhile, a special tribunal today sentenced three Jamaatul Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB) militants to 10 years imprisonment, seven years after their arrest from a hideout in rugged southeastern Khagrachhari hill district.
"They are members of outlawed JMB who faced the trial in person under Explosive Act," a police officer said.
The developments came as officials said efforts were underway to expedite the process to hold the trial of militants as part of the government's policy alongside the intensified anti-terrorism clampdown.
"The government wants to try the militants in speedy trial courts or fast track tribunals," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said.
Bangladesh has launched a massive crackdown on militants after the July 1 Dhaka terror attack in which 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed.