Avijit Roy, an atheist American-Bangladeshi writer, was brutally murdered in the streets of Dhaka on Thursday while returning home from a book fair with his wife. Roy had written frequently against religious fundamentalism on his blog Mukto-Mona, which means Free Mind.

Roy lived in America but came back to Bangladesh frequently; he wrote often championing religious secularism in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. After the attack, Roy's father said that the blogger had been receiving death threats from Muslim extremists.

The husband-and-wife pair were confronted by attackers while they were riding a rickshaw home. They were then pulled down from the rickshaw and brutally attacked by people with machetes, who later fled. By the time Roy had arrived at the hospital, he was declared dead, while his wife has been left critically wounded. Roy had written himself about death threats he'd received, via the BBC:

"The death threats started flowing to my e-mail inbox on a regular basis. I suddenly found myself a target of militant Islamists and terrorists," he writes.

"A well-known extremist... openly issued death threats to me through his numerous Facebook entries.

"In one widely circulated status, he writes, 'Avijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. But he will be murdered when he comes back'."

On Twitter on the night of the murder, a Muslim extremist organization Ansar Bangla-7 claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Guardian reports that 42-year-old Roy was the second atheist blogger to be murdered in the past two years, and the "fourth writer to have been attacked since 2004."

[Image via AP]