- Touhidur Rahman, 58, was detained along with two other men in Dhaka
- All three men are said to be 'active members' of a banned Islamist group
- They are suspected of hacking to death Bangladeshi-American national Avijit Roy, 42, in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in February
- They are also accused of killing Ananta Bijoy Das in Sylhet city in May
A British national has been arrested in Bangladesh on suspicion of being the 'main planner' behind the brutal murders of two prominent atheist bloggers.
Briton Touhidur Rahman, 58, and two other 'active members' of a banned Islamist group known as the Ansarullah Bangla Team were detained in the capital city Dhaka earlier this morning.
The three men were arrested on suspicion of hacking to death Bangladeshi-American national Avijit Roy, 42, in Dhaka in February and Ananta Bijoy Das in the northeastern city of Sylhet in May.
Their murders are part of a spate of brutal killing of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh over the past six months.
In March Washiqur Rahman Babu, 43, was butchered in Dhaka after voicing anger over the murder of Roy, while Niloy Chatterjee, 40, was killed in the capital earlier this month.
Victim: The three men - including Briton Touhidur Rahman, 58, - were arrested on suspicion of hacking to death Bangladeshi-American national Avijit Roy, 42, (left) in Dhaka in February
Bangladesh's elite security force were involved in this morning's arrests in relation to the murders of Bijoy Das and Roy.
All three men are believed to be 'active members' of a hardline Islamist group known as Ansarullah Bangla Team, which was banned in May following the spate of blogger killings.
'We've arrested them in the capital today. We can confirm that Rahman is a Bangladesh-origin British citizen. He is the main planner of the attacks on Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das,' Major Maksudul Alam of the country's Rapid Action Battalion said.
Another murder: The three men have also been arrested over the killing of Ananta Bijoy Das (pictured) in the northeastern city of Sylhet in May
'He told us that he is a British citizen,' Mufti Mahmood, the head of the RAB's legal and media division added, going on to say that the three would be paraded before the press later today.
Four secular bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh since the start of the year, including Roy and Das.
The first blogger to be killed this year was Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, who was attacked on Dhaka University campus when he was leaving a book fair with his wife.
An Islamic extremist, Farabi Shafiur Rahman, was paraded in court in March over the murder of the author of the international bestseller 'The Virus of Faith'.
The U.S. later sent a team of FBI investigators to Bangladesh to help probe the murder of Roy, who was visiting the city where he was born.
Roy's family - including his blogger wife Rafida Ahmed, who was left with a severe head wound in the attack - have accused Bangladeshi authorities of failing to do enough to protect him after he received death threats over his anti-religious writing.
Roy and Ahmed were hauled off their rickshaw by two assailants in the attack.
The pair were on their way back from a university book fair in Bangladesh when he was targeted by at least two men over his opposition to religious extremism.
Gruesome images from the scene showed that Roy had his head sliced open and was left for dead in the streets while Ahmed stood over his lifeless body with a deep gash to her head.
The following month Rahman Babu was killed in Dhaka in a similar brutal attack to that on Roy.
Police officers arrested two suspects near the scene holding meat cleavers.
Neither of these men are believed to have been among the three arrested in Dhaka this morning, although the pair are understood to have told officers that they were members of the Ansarullah Bangla Team and had trained for 15 days before the attack.
A prominent atheist blogger, Rahman Babu was killed after he criticising the savage murder of Roy.
The third murder of an anti-religious writer in Bangladesh came in May, when Bijoy Das was hacked to death in the northeastern city of Sylhet.
The blogger had left his home and was riding to town in a rickshaw when four men armed with machetes jumped on him and killed him with meat cleavers.
This morning's arrests relate to the murder of Bijoy Das.
The most recent murder of an atheist blogger in Bangladesh came earlier this month. Niloy Chatterjee, 40, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel to promote secularism on his blog, was killed in his flat in the capital Dhaka
The most recent murder of an atheist blogger in Bangladesh came earlier this month.
Niloy Chatterjee, 40, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel to promote secularism on his blog, was killed in his flat in the capital Dhaka on August 7, police official Mustafizur Rahman revealed.
The blogger had reported to the police that he feared for his life but his concerns had not been followed up the authorities, according to the BBC.
Chatterjee, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, was a critic of religious extremism that led to bombings in mosques and the killing of civilians, Sarker said.
Chatterjee was also one of hundreds of bloggers driving a movement demanding the death penalty for Islamist leaders accused of atrocities in Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence.
Militants have targeted secularist writers in Bangladesh in recent years, while the government has tried to crack down on hardline Islamist groups seeking to make the South Asian nation of 160 million, whose population is majority Muslim, a sharia law-based state.