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Police arrest student over Bangladeshi professor's murder

Police in Bangladesh have detained a student in connection with the murder of a university professor in the northwestern city of Rajshahi. Assailants hacked Rezaul Karim Siddique to death in a suspected Islamist attack.

Police said the student, from Rajshahi University where slain professor Rezaul Karim Siddique worked, was arrested early Sunday.

Up to three unknown attackers with machetes ambushed the 58-year-old English teacher when he was on his way to work on Saturday.

Extremist group "Islamic State" (IS) claimed its militants had

killed the professor

because "he promoted atheism," according to the Amaq news agency, which is affiliated with the jihadists. Authorities, however, dismissed IS involvement, saying the group had no presence in Bangladesh.

Rajshahi deputy police commissioner Nahidul Islam told news agency AFP that officers had the unnamed student in custody and were still hunting for other suspects.

"We have detained a 21-year-old Rajshahi University student who is a Shibir member as a suspect over the murder," he said. Islami Chhatra Shibir is the student wing of Bangadesh's largest Islamist opposition party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Siddique was the fourth professor from the state-run university to be murdered in recent years. In protest of the violence, hundreds of teachers at the university went on strike on Sunday to demand the killers be brought to justice.

The professor's colleagues said he participated in diverse cultural activities in Rajshahi, but was not involved in any political party. Siddique's wife has said her husband had never spoken out against religion, but police suspect he may have been targeted because he was seen as a free-thinker.

The South Asian country of 160 million has seen a surge in violent attacks on liberal activists over the past few years. In 2015, at least five secular bloggers and a publisher were murdered in alleged Islamist militant attacks. Earlier this month, Bangladeshi law student Nazimuddin Samad

was attacked with a machete

and then shot in the head. Samad was known for criticizing Islamic fundamentalism on social media.

nm/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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