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Bangladesh expat bloggers threatened by al-Qaeda-linked terror group

Bangladeshi bloggers living outside the country have received death threats from terror outfit "Ansarullah Bangla Team." The terror group has already murdered four bloggers since the beginning of this year.

The Ansarullah Bangla Team released a list of 21 Bangladeshi bloggers who are living outside the country, Reporters without Borders told journalists in Berlin on Thursday. The terrorists demanded that the government in Dhaka revoke the citizenships of these "enemies of Islam," failing which the militants would track these people and kill them.

"The list is an attack on the freedom of the press - not only in Bangladesh, but around the world," Christian Mihr, the head of Reporters without Borders in Germany, told journalists.

Six of the threatened online activists live in Germany, nine in Britain, three in Sweden, two in the US and one in Canada.

The list also includes the name of Ananya Azad, a blogger who has been living in Germany since June this year. Azad, who writes about women's rights and criticizes religious fundamentalism, was featured on a similar Islamist "hit list" two years ago.

Militants of the Ansarullah Bangla also murdered bloggers Ananta Bijoy Das and Avijit Roy earlier this year. Both were awarded for their fearless activism against religious bigotry by the DW Best of Blogs (Bobs) in June 2015. Altogether, the terror group has killed four online activists this year.

Bangladesh's government has arrested members of the militant group in two of the four murder cases, but it has done little to improve security for Bangladesh's bloggers. Instead, leaders in Dhaka have asked bloggers to censor their writing and not publish reports on religious issues.

Bangladesh ranks 146 out of 180 countries in Reporters without Borders' list of nations safe for journalists, the organization said in Berlin.

A fake?

However, editors of Mukto Mona, a secular Bangla blog, claimed on Thursday that the list was fake and had not been published by the Islamist group. The list contained false information in many cases and also names of people who were not bloggers, including politicians, the bloggers wrote.

Online activist Rumana Hashem tweeted:

Members of the terror group, Ansarullah Bangla, also posted a tweet claiming they had not published any such list threatening bloggers.

mg/kms (epd, KNA)

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