According to disturbing reports out of Bangladesh, atheist poet and publisher Shahzahan Bachchu was shot to death today in the town of Kakaldi.

There were five assailants on two motorcycles, the [Superintendent of Police Jayedul Alam] said.

Shahzahan had gone to meet friends at a pharmacy near his home before iftar, when the assailants came into the area. They blasted a crude bomb outside the pharmacy, creating panic.

They then dragged Shahzahan out and shot him, Jayedul said.

Bachchu had been the publisher at Bishaka Prokashoni (Star Publishers) and a former leader within the Communist Party of Bangladesh. The motive and the attackers are unknown as of this writing. But as we know all too well, a number of public atheists in Bangladesh have been slain over the past few years. There had been a lull in the killings for well over a year, but that ended today.

Bachchu’s daughter announced his death hours ago, saying two people had shot him. (Police said later that others were involved.)

It’s not like he hadn’t been a target, either. The Daily Observer noted in 2015, when several other atheists were hacked to death, that Bachchu was also a target of extremists and he was taking precautions as a result:

Phantom of death is haunting Bachchu Shahjahan [an alternative spelling of his name] — a poet, publisher and freethinker, who is used to criticizing popular beliefs and faiths through his Facebook posts.

He cannot sleep in his house and frequently changes hideouts to escape from the militants and fanatics who have issued numerous death threats against him through phone calls and messages.

He had a plan to establish study centres for secularism in different parts of the country. Initially he purchased a land in Tetulia to establish Suddho Charcha Kendra, a study centre for secularism. But he cannot go there for fear of being killed.

I don’t know if he had finally dropped those fears or if his precautions today simply weren’t enough. Either way, it appears that this was no random act of violence but a targeted assault on a critic of religion.

Read the full story at the Friendly Atheist Blog