Updated at 4:16 p.m. ET on 2016-05-17
Bangladeshi police Tuesday announced the arrest of four suspected members of banned extremist group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), including one who allegedly confessed to his role in last month’s machete-killing of a university professor.
Maskawath Hasan has been charged in connection with the April 23 killing of A.F.M. Rezaul Karim Siddique, a professor of English literature at northern Rajshahi University, police said.
He was arrested in nearby Bogra district on Sunday night and allegedly confessed in court to having participated in the killing, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Shamsuddin told a news conference in Rajshahi.
“[Hasan] could not say anything about the motive of the killing. He just said they killed him according to the instruction from his superior command,” he said.
Police have recovered the motorcycle, one machete and a dagger that were used in the killing, according to the commissioner.
Police did not link the other three JMB members to the crime, claiming only that the unnamed suspects were arrested on Monday for sheltering Hasan.
Siddique was one of five people killed in machete attacks carried out by suspected Islamic militants in April. The other victims included a secular blogger, two LGBT activists and a Hindu tailor.
According to Bangladesh’s home ministry, between early 2013 and May 5, 28 people including secular writers, activists and members of religious minorities have been slain in machete attacks nationwide.
Students, faculty end boycott
News of the arrests brought an end to street protests by Rajshahi University faculty members and students who had been boycotting classes to demand that Siddique’s killers be apprehended.
“According to the assurance of the home minister and the police actions, we have decided to return to classes. We will take to the street again in case we find any lapse in the [investigation into the murder] of our respected colleague,” Azam Shantonu, general secretary of the Rajshahi University Teachers’ Association, told a press conference at the university on Tuesday.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had gone to Rajshahi on Saturday to assure faculty members and students that those involved in Siddique’s killing would be arrested.
Khan told BenarNews he was glad to see students and teachers return to class.
“The police have arrested one killer and the others will be arrested too,” he said.
Siddique had always been involved in creative and cultural activities, Rajshahi student Mustafizur Rahman told BenarNews.
“I do not believe that he may have been hostile with anyone; he never got involved in university politics,” Rahman said.
Siddique, who tried to establish a music school in his village in Rajshahi’s Bagmara area, was hacked to death around 7:40 a.m. on April 23, not far from his residence. Bagmara, a sub-district of Rajshahi, is where JMB was born in 2002-03.
“Three of them directly killed him while the other one waited on a motorcycle. Two of them fled on the motorcycle while two others fled by other means,” Shamsuddin said.
Since last year, the JMB has been trying to reorganize in different parts of the country, including Bagmara, police said.
On Dec. 25, a bomb blew up at an Ahmadiyya mosque in Bagmara, killing a suspected JMB suicide bomber and injuring three others. A day earlier, police recovered a stockpile of explosives from a suspected JMB den in Dhaka.
In December 2004, JMB operatives killed another Rajshahi University teacher, Mohammad Yunus, who had been involved in Awami League politics. In February 2016, a Rajshahi court sentenced two JMB operatives to death for Yunus’s murder.