Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury Tutul and two others were rushed to the hospital with severe injuries after they were hacked in the office of publishing house ‘Shuddhaswar’ in Dhaka on Saturday.
The publisher, who was a close friend of Roy, had filed a complaint with police after being threatened with death on Facebook after Avijit Roy was hacked to death in February this year.
Investigators said Islamist radicals were behind the attack on Roy, which also left his wife blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonya severely injured.
Saturday’s attack left blogger Tarek Rahim and writer Ranadipam Basu injured along with Tutul. They have been taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
“Tutul and Tarek’s conditions are critical but Ranadipam is out of danger,” DMCH casualty department’s surgeon KM Riaz told reporters around 5pm after operating on them.
Three men barged into the publishing house’s office at Dhaka’s Lalmatia around 2:30pm.
After the attack, Basu wrote in his Facebook post that he along with Tutul and Tarik had been hacked.
A witness told bdnews24.com that the assailants hacked Tutul and two others before locking up them and a few others in the office from outside.
“There were three attackers. They said, ‘we’ve come to kill Tutul’,” the witness said, seeking anonymity for security reasons.
He said the attackers had held several people, including him, hostage at gunpoint.
Describing the events, he said a man first knocked at the door saying he wanted to buy books.
“As he was allowed into the room, he said he had a ‘brother’ waiting outside. He went outside and returned with two others. One of them had a light beard and the one carrying a gun seemed like a teenager,” the witness said.
The person who entered first was carrying machetes in a black bag.
“They hacked the three and left after locking the room from outside,” the witness said. “We heard gunshots when the attackers were leaving.”
Residents of the building, too, said they had heard sounds of firing.
An employee of a tailoring shop in front of Suddhaswar’s offices told bdnews24.com that he had first heard screams and then saw three men fleeing on a motorcycle.
A resident of the building said he had come out hearing screams. “I saw police breaking open the door of Suddhaswar’s flat and rescuing three people.”
Tutul’s friend Samakal’s Executive Editor Mustafiz Shafi said he had received a call from Tutul’s number around 2:30pm.
“His employee ‘Rasel’ told me, ‘please save us. They hacked and locked us in the room’,” he said, adding that he had contacted police after that.
There is an academic coaching centre on the first floor of the building. One of the students told bdnews24.com that the attackers had locked the main gate while fleeing.
The motive behind the attack remains unclear and police said they were investigating the incident.
bdnews24.com’s Chief Crimes Correspondent Liton Haider reported from the scene around 30 minutes after the attack that the office was vandalised and had bloodstains all over.
Tutul’s friend Shafi said he had seen empty cartridges at the site.
Ganajagaran Mancha activists had marched outside DMCH protesting against the incident.
Police’s Tejgaon zone Deputy Commissioner Biplob Kumar Sarkar told bdnews24.com they were certain that three men took part in the attack.
“We’re yet to identify them,” he said.
Sarkar said they had recovered a bullet and an empty cartridge from the scene.
When asked about steps taken after Tutul lodged a general diary in February, he said he could not recollect if Tutul had filed a GD.
“We’ve always provided them protection whenever they asked for it,” he added.