By Rohan Ahluwalia
Ansar al-Islam, a Bangladeshi militant group with close links to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the killings of a top gay rights activist and his friend on Monday, April 25, in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.
Xulhaz Mannan, an editor for the country’s only LGBT magazine, and his friend, Tanay Mojumdar, were hacked to death, allegedly by members of the militant group.
Ansar al-Islam admitted to the killings of Mannan and Mojum- dar through Twitter. They claimed to have done it because Mannan and Mojumdar were working “to promote homosexuality… with the help of their masters, the U.S. crusaders and their Indian allies,” BBC News reported.
Despite claiming responsibility, the assertion could not be verified, according to BBC News.
This attack occurred only two days after a university professor was killed by suspected Islamist militants on Saturday, April 23.
According to NPR, Mannan worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and was editor of the country’s only LGBT magazine, Roopbaan.
Following his death, USAID released a statement that read, “Today, USAID lost one of our own. He was the kind of person willing to fight for what he believed in, someone ready to stand up for his own rights and the rights of others.”
Mannan was also responsible for organizing a rally for LGBT youths called “The Rainbow Rally” on Thursday, April 14, the Bengali New Year. According to the New York Times, a friend of Mannan, Sara Hossain, said that Mannan had received death threats from those who opposed the rally.
Tanay Mojumdar, the other victim in these killings, was openly gay and was a leader in the fight for LGBT rights, according to a British photographer who wished to not be named, CNN reported.
The two were not romantically involved with each other, according to the photographer.
According to CNN, Monday’s at- tack followed several others in Bangladesh since 2013. At least 20 people — including professors, secular writers and bloggers, foreigners and members of religious minorities — have been killed in attacks blamed on Islamist militants over the last three years.
The Bangladeshi government has so far disputed the claims by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda linked groups for the attacks BBC reported. Instead, the government puts blame on opposition parties or the local Islamist groups.
Despite the government’s direction of blame, Bangladesh, a sunni-dominated nation, will hear backlash how the government does not do enough to protect minority groups — if the killings do not stop.