DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh on Monday banned a radical Islamist group accused of attacking and killing atheist bloggers and writers.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said the Ansarullah Bangla Team was formally banned in response to a request by police because it has threatened and killed bloggers, writers and other activists.
Junior Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the decision was made under the anti-terrorism law.
A police report said the group follows al-Qaida and has been active in Muslim-majority Bangladesh since 2008, but has widened its influence since 2013, when it allegedly killed blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider near his home in Dhaka.
Five suspected members of the group admitted involvement in the killing. The group's alleged chief, Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani, is in jail facing trial in Haider's death.
Since February, three other atheist bloggers who criticized radical Islam have been killed, including an American citizen of Bangladesh origin.
The group allegedly threatened last week to kill 10 people, including a university vice chancellor, a top adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a ruling party lawmaker.
It has recruited students from mosques and from leading colleges and universities.
Bangladesh has previously banned other Islamist radical groups, including Jumatul Mujahedin Bangladesh, Harkatul Jihad Al Islami Bangladesh, Shahadat Al Hikmat, Harkatul Jihad Al Islam, and Jagroto Muslim Janata Bangladesh.