Updated: April 26, 2016 6:52:33 pm
An outlawed Al-Qaeda outfit on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the brutal killing of Bangladesh’s first gay magazine editor and his friend here for ‘pioneering’ homosexuality in the Muslim-majority country which has seen a string of murders of secular activists and bloggers.
Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of ‘Roopban’ – the only magazine in Bangladesh advocating gay rights – and his friend Tanay Majumder were killed on Monday by armed assailants who entered the flat impersonating as courier company officials, police said as they detained a college student in connection with the twin murders.
The Al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub continent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for killing the duo, saying that the two were killed because they were “pioneers of promoting and practicing homosexuality.”
“The mujahidin of Ansar al-Islam (AQIS, Bangladesh branch) were able to assassin Xulhaz Mannan and his associate Tanay Majumder. They were the pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh,” the AQIS said in a Twitter post.
“They were working day and night to promote homosexuality among the people of this land with the help of their masters, the US crusaders and its Indian allies,” it said.
Bangladesh police have detained a college student and claimed to have found some “important evidence”.
Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Shibli Noman said that police found a bag used by the assailants which appeared as “important evidence” in investigating the case.
A police officer chased the killers and managed to snatch a bag from them as they were fleeing the scene, Noman said, adding that the officer was also injured in the scuffle.
One police official said they found several items including a mobile phone in the bag. Mannan, 35, a cousin of former foreign minister Dipu Moni and ex-protocol officer of the US embassy, was known for his gay rights activism.
Majumder, the other victim, was also a LGBT activist.
The assailants barged into Mannan’s flat on the second floor and stabbed him and his friend indiscriminately, Abdul Bari, a sub-inspector of Special Branch (SB) of police, was quoted as saying by the Daily Star.
The two died immediately on the spot.
Shocked by the double murders, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered police to nab the killers and bring them to justice.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the “barbaric murder” of Mannan, who also worked with the US embassy in Bangladesh.
US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, meanwhile, asked Bangladesh in the “strongest terms” to apprehend the criminals behind the murder of her colleague Mannan.
Amnesty International’s South Asia director Champa Patel said the brutal killing today of an editor of an LGBT publication and his friend, days after a university professor
was hacked to death, underscores the “appalling “lack of protection being afforded to a range of peaceful activists in the country.
The killings came two days after the grisly murder of liberal university professor Rezaul Karim Siddiquee in the northern Rajshahi city. The attack was claimed by the ISIS
There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh in recent months specially targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners.
Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were killed with machetes, one inside his own home.
In February, a head priest was killed at a Hindu temple in an area bordering India, the first attack by the ISIS targeting the community.
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