A law student and online activist was stabbed to death in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, police said Thursday, the latest in a series of such attacks.

Machete-wielding assailants attacked Nazimuddin Samad, 26, a law student at Jagannath University, as he was returning home from classes on Wednesday night, police officer Nurul Amin said.

The attackers fled the scene firing gunshots and chanting "Allah-hu-Akbar" ("God is Great" in Arabic), Amin said, quoting witnesses.

Samad was politically active and belonged to a student group linked to the ruling Awami League party. He was also an activist in the Ganajagaran Mancha group, which calls for the death penalty for crimes committed during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence.

His friends identified him as a critic of religious extremism.

Police did not confirm a motive for the murder.

The attack was similar to those on secularist bloggers and a publisher in the last year, said Tapan Kumar Saha, a duty officer at Sutrapur police station.

"We are also looking into whether he had personal enmity with anyone," Saha said.

At least four secularist bloggers and a publisher were killed in similar attacks by suspected Islamists in Bangladesh.

The Islamic State militant group and its local affiliate groups claimed responsibility for the previous attacks.

University students protested the killing on Thursday and demanded that the government arrest the perpetrators soon.

The United Nations and European Union expressed concern over the killing of another activist, asking Bangladeshi authorities to ensure protection for others who might be at risk of being attacked.

"This attack demonstrates that this new killing is clearly part of a growing trend, which undermines the freedom of expression and opinion in Bangladesh," UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Robert Watkins said in a statement.

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