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​U.S. blogger Avijit Roy hacked to death in Bangladesh

Forensics police investigate the site where blogger Avijit Roy and his wife were attacked by unidentified assailants on February 27, 2015, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A prominent U.S. blogger, known for his writing against religious fundamentalism, has been hacked to death by unidentified attackers in Bangladesh's capital, police said Friday.

The attack on Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, took place late Thursday when he and his wife Rafida Ahmed, who was seriously injured in the attack, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University.

It was not known who was behind the attack, but Roy's family and friends say he was a prominent voice against religious fanatics and received threats in the past. No groups have claimed the responsibility.

The local police chief, Sirajul Islam, told The Associated Press that the assailants used cleavers to attack Roy and his wife, who is also a blogger.

"Several attackers took part in the attack and at least two assailants hit them directly," Islam said, adding that two blood-stained cleavers were found after the attack.

Roy had founded a popular Bengali-language blog -- Mukto-mona, or Free Mind -- in which articles on scientific reasoning and religious extremism featured prominently.

Anujit Roy, his younger brother, said Roy had traveled to Bangladesh earlier this month from the U.S. and was planning to return there next month.

Similar attacks have taken place in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people but ruled by secular laws, in the past. Investigators have said religious fanatics were behind those attacks.

In 2013, another blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, who also spoke out against religious fanatics, was killed by unidentified assailants near his home in Dhaka.

And in 2004, Humayun Azad, a prominent writer and a teacher of Dhaka University, was seriously injured in an attack when he was returning from the same book fair, which is an annual event.

Baki Billah, a friend of Roy and a blogger, told Independent TV station that Roy had been threatened earlier by people upset at his writing.

"He was a free thinker. He was a Hindu but he was not only a strong voice against Islamic fanatics but also equally against other religious fanatics," Billah said.

"We are saddened. We don't know what the government will do to find the killers. We want justice," he said.