Nazimuddin SamadA banned Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the killing of a student here who posted comments against radical Islamists on Facebook even as Bangladesh government rubbished it, saying there is no presence of the international terror group on its soil.

According to the SITE Intelligence group, a US-based monitoring organisation, Ansar al-Islam, a Bangladesh branch of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent or AQIS, said in a
statement posted online yesterday that its members carried out the attack in “vengeance”.

“This operation was conducted to teach a lesson to the blasphemers of this land whose poisonous tongues are constantly abusing Allah…the religion of Islam and the Messenger…under the pretext of so-called ‘freedom of speech’,” Mufti Abdullah Ashraf, a spokesman for Ansar al-Islam, said in the statement according to SITE Intelligence Group.

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However, Home Ministry’s additional secretary Abu Hena Muneem rubbished the claims saying international terrorist groups has no presence in Bangladesh.

“This is rubbish…you have seen such claims in the past also but our investigations so far found no presence of any international terrorist group in Bangladesh,” Home Ministry’s
additional secretary Abu Hena Muneem said.

A senior police officer, meanwhile, preferring anonymity said repeated claims of IS or AQIS involvement in such murders in the country visibly appeared to be part of a desperate campaign to show Bangladesh as a country which is exposed to international terrorism.

28-year-old Nazimuddin Samad, a masters student of the state-run Jagannath University’s law department, was hacked by machete-wielding militants before being shot dead from close range here on April 6, the latest in a series of brutal attacks on secular bloggers and activists in the Muslim majority country.

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.

While murdering Samad, the killers shouted Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great), witnesses had said.

Samad, who hailed from Sylhet, was the information and research secretary of Sylhet district unit of Bangabandhu Jatiya Jubo Parishad. He was also an activist of Gonojagoron Moncho’s Sylhet wing.

His friends said Samad used to campaign for secularism on Facebook and was critical of radical Islamists.

There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh over the past six months specially targeting minorities, secular bloggers and foreigners.

Last month, a 65-year-old Christian convert was hacked to death in the northern Bangladeshi town of Kurigram by three motorbike-borne unidentified assailants.

Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were killed with machetes, one inside his own home.