Avijit Roy was hacked to death in February as he left a university book fair. Washiqur Rahman was murdered in March as he left his house for work. Ananta Bijoy Ras was butchered in May while en route to his job at a bank. And on Friday, Niloy Neel was killed by a group of men who snuck into his fourth-floor apartment, again armed with machetes, and beheaded him.

See also: Video sparks concern over harassment of Saudi women

All four men were secularist bloggers and activists who used Facebook to rail against religion and discuss its negative impact on Bangladeshi society. And all four men were murdered by machete-wielding Islamic militants, illustrating a troubling trend in Bangladesh where secularists are increasingly targeted for their views. An estimated 90% of Bangladesh's population is Muslim, making Islam far and away the majority religion.

Ansar-Al-Islam, a Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent, claimed responsibility for the most recent attack.

"There were six people who knocked on his door, saying that they were looking to rent a flat. Two of them then took him to a room and slaughtered him there,” Muntashirul Islam, a deputy police commissioner, told the Guardian.

Bangladesh Blogger Killed

An artificial flower pot is seen next to a blood-stained wall at the home of blogger Niloy Chowdhury, who was hacked to death by unknown assailants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015.

Image: A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

Neel, whose real name is Niloy Chakrabarti, had reportedly requested police protection in recent weeks. It is not clear why the request wasn't granted. As recently as May the blogger told the paper "he was scared that he would be killed and that he had tried to file reports with local police about continued harassment," it said. "He claimed his complaints were not taken seriously."

Appalled at murder of blogger Niloy Neel. Perpetrators must be brought to justice and free speech in #Bangladesh defended robustly.

— Joyce Anelay (@JoyceAnelay) August 7, 2015

"What was already a human rights crisis has now spun entirely out of control, and it is now long overdue for the government of Bangladesh to take seriously its moral responsibility to protect the lives of its people," said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry (CFI), an Amherst-based nonprofit devoted to fostering a secular society, in a statement to Mashable.

Bangladesh Blogger Killed

Bangladeshi students and social activists participate in a protest against the killing of blogger and author Ananta Bijoy Das, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

Image: A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

"This latest murder demonstrates once again that the culture of impunity for these Islamist vigilantes in Bangladesh has become firmly entrenched," added International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) President Andrew Copson, whose group, an NGO, champions Humanist values. "Freedom of speech and the rule of law are being undermined and the Government of Bangladesh needs to act to restore them or continue to lose some of its bravest, most thoughtful, and inspiring citizens, to its continuing shame.”

Our leaders must not stay silent as humanists are assassinated in #Bangladesh. The world needs to hear this is happening. #NiloyNeel #the84

— British Humanists (@BHAhumanists) August 7, 2015

All four men were all named in a 2013 list of "atheist bloggers," which was drawn up by Islamic groups and given to the government with hopes that they would be arrested for blasphemy, according to BBC News. They weren't, and so the militants began taking action — one al-Qaeda linked video called for supporters to take out "blasphemers." A total of eight bloggers and activists have been attacked in the past two years.

The world has begun to take notice.

In February, after Roy's killing, the U.S. condemned the "cowardly assault," which sparked protests.

Bangladesh Blogger Killed

Bangladeshi social activists hold a banner displaying a portrait of blogger and author Ananta Bijoy Das during a protest against his killing, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

Image: A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

In May a group of 150 writers and thinkers published an open letter calling on the Bangladeshi government to take action. The group, which included Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel, did it "to ensure that the tragic events of the last three months are not repeated, and to bring the perpetrators to justice."

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental right under Bangladesh’s constitution as well as one of the rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We call on the Bangladeshi authorities to swiftly and impartially investigate Ananta Bijoy Das’s death as well as the murders of Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman Babu, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards.”

And last week, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced a resolution that calls on the government of Bangladesh "to protect the human rights of all its citizens...strengthen democratic institutions and rule of law, and prevent the growth of extremist groups."

No assailants have been arrested in any of the murders and the government has not stepped up any security or protection of the targeted bloggers.

"All too often perpetrators of crimes against minorities go unpunished," said Rep. Gabbard in announcing the resolution. "It’s up to the government of Bangladesh to take action to stop those who incite and commit violence and protect the rights of these minorities."

Congressman Matt Salmon, who co-sponsored the resolution, added, "We expect Bangladesh to respect human dignity, honor commitments to freedom of expression and religion, and protect the human rights of all citizens, no matter one’s political disposition, creed, or religion. This resolution reaffirms our dedication to these principles."

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said Saïd Amin (@said) Pinned comment
I can't even find the right words to express the emotional weight that I feel when reading of such cruel and senseless human behavior.
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