Al-Qaeda group claims editor killing

Bangladeshi Muslims attend the funeral of Xulhaz Mannan who was stabbed to death by unidentified assailants, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, April 26, 2016 Image copyright AP

A Bangladeshi militant group affiliated to al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam, says it was behind the killing of a top gay rights activist and his friend.

Xulhaz Mannan, editor of a LGBT magazine, and actor Tanay Mojumdar, were hacked to death on Monday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has blamed opposition parties for the killings, claims denied by the opposition.

It comes after a university professor was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants on Saturday.

More than 14 people – including professors, secular writers and bloggers, foreigners and members of religious minorities – have been killed in attacks blamed on Islamist militants since early 2015.

Who is behind the Bangladesh killings?

Lurching from secularism to sectarian terror?

Ansar al-Islam said on Twitter that it had killed Mr Mannan and Mr Mojumdar because they were working “to promote homosexuality… with the held of their masters, the US crusaders and their Indian allies”.

The claim could not be independently verified.

Mr Mannan edited Roopbaan, a magazine and activist group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community that had received some support from foreign embassies.

Image copyright AP

The US ambassador to Bangladesh said he was “devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi”. Mr Mannan had also worked at the US embassy.

On Monday night, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami group, were “involved in these killings and committing these murders” as a way to destabilise Bangladesh.

The opposition denied her claims, and local media have criticised the government, saying it is responsible for protecting minorities.

Deadly attacks

Earlier this month, a Bangladeshi law student who had expressed secular views online died when he was hacked with machetes and then shot in Dhaka.

Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were also killed with machetes.

The four bloggers had all appeared on a list of 84 “atheist bloggers” drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.

Image copyright AFP

There have also been attacks on members of religious minorities including Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

Two foreigners – an Italian aid worker and a Japanese farmer – have also been killed.

The Islamic State militant group reportedly claimed to have carried out some of the attacks, including the killing of the professor and the two foreigners.

However, the government has denied the presence of IS on its soil.

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