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FBI agents join probe into slaying of U.S. writer in Bangladesh

Investigation into blogger Avijit Roy's slaying widens as U.S. agents arrive in Dhaka

FBI agents met Thursday with Bangladeshi law enforcement officers in a widening investigation into last week’s brutal slaying in Dhaka of an American secular blogger.

A four-member FBI team that arrived in the Bangladeshi capital late Wednesday held a lengthy meeting with police detectives probing the death of Avijit Roy, an American citizen of Bangladeshi origin.

Roy was hacked to death by assailants Feb. 26 on the Dhaka University campus. Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, was seriously wounded in the attack.

“The FBI team will assist us in carrying out the investigation, and they’ll stay here for a few days,” said Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of the Dhaka police department’s detective branch.

Earlier this week, Bangladeshi authorities made their first arrest in the attack, apprehending Shafiur Rahman Farabi, a 29-year-old student, who had allegedly threatened to kill Roy in multiple social media postings. Farabi denied involvement in Roy’s slaying, authorities said.

Roy, a 42-year-old Atlanta-area resident, was a prolific writer and blogger whose outspoken liberalism and criticism of conservative Islam put him in the cross hairs of extremist groups in Bangladesh.

His killing has sparked widespread condemnation. On Thursday, a senior United Nations official said he was deeply concerned at “measures that restrict freedom of expression and democratic space” in numerous countries, including Bangladesh.

The impoverished South Asian nation is also in the midst of deadly violence involving supporters of rival political groups that has left more than 100 people dead in recent weeks. Opponents of Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed have carried out arson attacks against public buses and other civilian targets in an attempt to shut down transportation systems in protest of a disputed election last year.

“In Bangladesh, the appalling attack on a freethinking blogger and his wife last week is the latest shock in an escalating atmosphere of political violence,” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Hussein said in Geneva, Switzerland.

Special correspondent Kader reported from Dhaka and Times staff writer Bengali from Mumbai, India.

For more news from South Asia, follow @SBengali on Twitter

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