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Bangladesh 4 October 2004

Newspaper editor beheaded in axe attack

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) expressed outrage at the barbaric murder of a regional newspaper editor who was decapitated by men who attacked him with axes.

The murder of Dipankar Chakrabarty, in Sherpur in the north-west, brings to four the number of journalists killed in Bangladesh since the start of 2004.

The international press freedom organisation called on home affairs minister, Lutfozzaman Babor, to set up an investigative commission to probe the case and to send more police officers to the Sherpur area.

"Unless all possible light is shed on the motives for this murder, the entire press will suffer anguish. This execution bears the hallmarks of people ready to do anything to get rid of a journalist who was getting in their way," it said in a letter to the minister.

Chakrabarty, editor of regional daily Durjoy Bangla, was returning home after work when five young men jumped him and hacked him to death. Neighbours heard screams and the sound of scooters on which the killers fled. They rushed into the street and found the editor’s decapitated body. After a post mortem examination the body was taken to the Bogra press club.

A police officer told Agence France-Presse that the murder was the work of "professionals", but he did not yet know the motives or the identity of those responsible. Chakrabarty had previously told Reporters Without Borders that he felt threatened because of his revelations about local gangsters who enjoyed the protection of some politicians in Sherpur.

(JPEG) Journalists in Sherpur and Bogra sent an ultimatum to the local authorities to find the killers in the next 72 hours as a silent march was organised in the town. Regional newspapers will all carry blank front pages over the next three days as a mark of protest.

Dipankar Chakrabarty, 59, began his career as a journalist in the 1970s. He was vice-president of the Bogra branch of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ). The BFUJ decided to hang a black flag in all its offices and its members will wear a black badge for three days.

After Iraq and the Philippines, Bangladesh has seen the largest number of journalists (4) killed while doing their jobs in 2004. More journalists suffered physical attack and received death threats in Bangladesh than in any other country during 2002, 2003 and during the first months of 2004.

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