Blogger who targeted Islamist groups stabbed to death, protesters hit streets

FP

Tens of thousands joined the funeral prayers Saturday of a Bangladeshi blogger who had been critical of the country's Islamist groups and was killed, intensifying demands for death penalty for 1971 war criminals.

Protestors chanted slogans promising to avenge architect Rajib Haidar's assassination as his national flag draped coffin reached Shahbagh in the afternoon for the Namaaz-e-Janaza. Haidar, 30, an architect and Shahbagh protest activist, was stabbed to death near his house at Pallabi in the capital Friday night.

Haidar's death came hours after violence at southeastern Cox's Bazar district that left three people dead. The violence broke out after JI activists turned violent following Friday prayers to protest their top leaders' trial for war crimes. The killing prompted the protesters to go back to their 24-hour movement instead of seven-hour programme which they had declared hours before the death.

Haidar apparently incurred the wrath of the Islamists for his internet blog campaign demanding ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) politics and boycott of the health, banking and other services as part of the youngsters "non-political and non-partisan" movement.

"We have launched a massive manhunt for killers of Rajib Haidar... the detective branch and the CID separately took fingerprints to track down the assailants," police said.

The protesters at Shahbagh accused fundamentalist JI of killing Haidar with lethal weapons last evening while he was returning home. "Five suspected assailants were arrested," police said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also visited Haidar's residence Saturday to meet bereaved family members where she said "they (killers) will not be spared".

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