An affiliate of terrorist group Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the murder of a journalist in Bangladesh.
Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine Roopban, was hacked to death yesterday, when thugs raided his apartment.
His friend Mahbub Tonoy, also an LGBT activist, was also killed in the attack.
Reuters now reports that terrorist group Ansar Al Islam, a local Al-Qaeda affiliate, has claimed responsibility for the killings.
In messages left online, the group said that the victims had been “pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh” and were “working day and night to promote homosexuality”.
The Bangledeshi government has repeatedly denied any reported terrorism in the country, amid a string of attacks on secularists.
Homosexuality is still technically illegal in Bangladesh under a colonial-era Penal code.
Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Shibli Noman said that police found a bag used by the assailants, which is being treated as “important evidence” in their investigation.
“Police ASI Momtaz Ahmed chased the killers and managed to snatch a bag from them as they were fleeing the scene – during the scuffle the officer was also injured,” Noman added.
One police official said they found several items including a mobile phone in the bag.
No further details were released.
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The killers are believed to have posed as couriers to gain access to the building, killing both Mannan and Tonoy and injuring a third person, according to the BBC.
Manna – a prominent LGBT activist – had previously worked as a protocol officer for a former US ambassador to Bangladesh.
The US embassy were quick to condemn the “barbaric” murders and urged the Bangladeshi government to to show strength in light of the attacks.
“I am devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi,” US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat said.
“We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the Government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders,” she added.
Speaking at the time of the magazine’s launch in 2014, Mr Mannan described it as a ‘major leap forward’ for the LGBT community in the country.
“The main reason for this publication is to promote love,” he said.
“Promoting love and promoting the right to love. The audience for love is huge and that’s who this is for.”