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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 15:25 GMT
Bomb kills Bangladesh journalist
Manik Saha
Manik Saha - the fourth journalist to be killed in the region in recent years

A prominent journalist in the south western Bangladeshi town of Khulna has been killed in a bomb attack.

Manik Saha, 45, was the Khulna correspondent of the New Age newspaper and president of the Khulna press club.

Widely respected, he was also a contributor to the BBC Bengali service and a well known lawyer and environmental activist.

He leaves behind a wife and two children who are said to be devastated by the murder.

Police say that the bomb went off as he was making his way to the press club by rickshaw.

His death is the latest in a series of attacks against journalists in Bangladesh.

Mr Saha was renowned for his vigorous writing on crime and his denunciations of gangs that operate in the Khulna region.

Bomb thrown

Witnesses say an unidentified assailant threw the bomb at Mr Saha while he was riding in a rickshaw.

Map showing Khulna
Khulna has a reputation for violence

Journalists in Khulna staged a street protest and blamed his death on the ever-deteriorating law and order situation in the south-west of the country.

Strikes have been called for Saturday and Sunday.

Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, and opposition leader Sheikh Hasina have both condemned the murder, as has the international journalists' pressure group Reporters Sans Frontieres.

Mrs Zia has pledged that those who carried out the attack will be "hunted down."

Mr Saha is the fourth journalist to have been killed in the region over the last three years.

A statement released by the New Age newspaper condemned what it called a heinous attack.

"We demand that the government immediately identify and exemplarily punish the assailants," it said.

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Dhaka says that criminal gangs who originally formed Maoist political parties but who now live by extortion and racketeering have been widely blamed for the killing.

In its annual report the pressure group Reporters Without Frontiers described Bangladesh as "by far the world's most violent country for journalists".

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