The senior editor of an LGBT magazine and a leading gay rights activist were hacked to death Monday in a brutal machete attack in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Assailants posing as couriers stormed the apartment of Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of the first and only LGBT magazine in Bangladesh, killing him and a friend, U.S. Ambassador Marcia Bernicat told the BBC.
“I am devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi. We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the Government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders.”
Five or six assailants, who posed as couriers with a package, stormed Mannan’s first floor apartment at about 5 p.m. local time Monday, brutally killing the LGBT magazine editor and Tanay Majumder. Eyewitness were alerted to the brutal attack by the assailants shouting and Islamic chanting, police said.
Mannan and Mojumdar both worked at Roopbaan, the first and only LGBT magazine in the country of Bangladesh; staff members told the BBC they were careful to protect their identities, but weren’t aware of any threats of violence against them.
Both men were openly gay and said they hoped their work at Roopbaan would help spread tolerance for gays and homosexuals throughout the country. They also helped found the country’s annual Rainbow Rally, which was banned this year as part of increased security measures.
“Until a year ago the only threat to coming out was shame of the family and having to start a new life elsewhere in Bangladesh. Now it’s one of danger.”
Mannan also worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and had previously worked at the American embassy as a protocol officer.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the machete killing of the LGBT editor and his gay activist friend, although the Bangladeshi government says there are no Islamic State forces in the country.
The country of Bangladesh has witnessed a rash of brutal machete attacks on minorities, intellectuals, and foreigners in the predominantly Muslim country, aimed at squashing secularism, since last February.
The brutal machete killing of the two activists comes two days after an English professor in Northern Bangladesh was hacked to death by suspected ISIS militants for allegedly promoting atheism over Islam.
Earlier this month, a 28-year-old liberal blogger, Nazimuddin Samad, was attacked by machete-wielding assailants and shot to death as he returned from a university class for criticizing Islam on his Facebook page.
Imran H Sarker, who managed the Blogger and Online Activist Network, told the Independent that Samad was an outspoken critic of injustice.
“We found him always a loud voice against all injustice and also a great supporter of secularism.”
After Sarker’s brutal killing, hundreds of students took to the streets of Bangladesh to demand his killers be brought to justice.
There is some evidence Samad was on an ISIS hit list and his attackers had spent time tracking his route from school to home and monitoring his other movements.
Last year, at four other liberal bloggers who appeared on an ISIS list, along with 84 other “atheist bloggers,” were also brutally murdered for criticizing Islam.
ISIS has also claimed credit for the brutal killing of a Hindu priest, a Japanese tourist, an Italian aid worker, and a Bangladeshi policeman.
Meanwhile, the nation’s best known secular blogger, Imran Sarker, received a death threat by telephone Sunday, saying he would be killed “very soon.”
Bangladesh continues to deny the existence of ISIS forces within its borders, although attacks from the Islamist militant continues unabated in this Muslim majority country of some 160 million people.
[Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images]