The Ansarullah Bangla Team, the Islamist militant group behind the fatal hacking of four Bangladeshi bloggers this year, has now released a hitlist comprising names of writers and activists based around the world.

The hitlist includes names of 20 Bangladeshi and western writers and activists, including nine based in the UK, two in the US, seven in Germany and one each in Canada and Sweden, and threatens to kill them if their Bangladeshi citizenship is not cancelled.

"Cancel the Bangladeshi citizenship of enemies of islam and [Muslim religious] education, atheists, apostates, unbelievers, anti-Islamic ... bloggers, agents of India ... otherwise they will be killed wherever they can be found in the Almighty's world," the  Ansarullah Bangla Team said in its statement, according to The Guardian

The outfit, banned in Bangladesh, had allegedly carried out killings of four bloggers - Avijit Roy in February, Oyasiqur Rehman in March, Ananta Bijoy Das in May and Niloy Neel in August. The four men, who were said to be rationalists and freethinkers, were hacked to death with machetes. 

The brutal murder of Avijit Roy in the middle of a busy road on 26 February sent shockwaves across the world, after gory images showed him lying in a poll of blood as his wife, who was also left bloodied with a finger chopped off, cried for help. 

The Islamist group had accused the bloggers of criticising Islam.

Earlier this month, the 'chief' of the militant group and two others were arrested from Dhaka in connection with the murders of Roy and Das. 

The spate of attacks on writers and activists in Bangladesh sparked international concern, with human rights activists criticising the Sheikh Hasina government for failing to protect them despite threats issued against them.