Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontiers - RSF) and the Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication (BCDJC) today called for greater police efforts to find him and the abductors, and deplored the reported death of kidnapped journalist Shukur Hussain.
"If his death is confirmed, it will be the second murder this year of a journalist by armed extremists in the southwestern region of Khulna," noted Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard and BCDJC president Nayeemul Islam Khan in a letter to Khulna police commissioner Moklesur Rahman.
"We know it is difficult to keep public order in this region, but it is your duty to put an end to violence which affects the press," they said. Eight journalists have been killed in Khulna in the past six years, making it the most dangerous area in the country for the press.
Hussain, a reporter with the regional daily Dainik Anirban, was kidnapped at night on 5 July from his house in Dumuria by seven armed men who police think were members of the banned Maoist Biplobi Communist Party. Hussain, 40, had written several articles criticising them and had received death threats over the past three months.
Witnesses reportedly saw his kidnappers shoot him in the head when he tried to escape from a boat they had forced him into on the Ghangrail river and then taken his body away. Police have arrested 11 people for questioning. Another journalist on Dainik Anirban, Nahar Ali, was kidnapped by the Maoists in April last year and tortured to death. Hussain had replaced Ali as correspondent of Dainik Anirban in Dumuria.
A joint fact-finding mission by Reporters Without Borders and BCDJC went to Khulna in March this year, a few days after the murder of Harun-ur-Rashid, a reporter on the newspaper Dainik Purbanchal. The Khulna police chief told the mission that every effort would being made to identify and arrest those responsible, while a government minister promised to see they were hanged.
Reporters Without Borders believes the journalist was killed by members of the Purba Bangla Sharbahara Party because of articles he wrote about organised crime in the region. Seven suspects, most of them party members, have been identified and one of them was arrested by police in April.