Officials say the editor of Bangladesh’s first LGBT magazine, who was also a former U.S. Embassy worker, was among two men hacked to death Monday evening in Dhaka.
A statement from the U.S. Embassy identified the man as Xulhaz Mannan, working for USAID, a government agency for poverty prevention.
Mannan, 35, was the editor of Roopbaan, the country’s only magazine for the LGBT community. The magazine had been launched in 2014 to promote greater acceptance of LGBT communities in Bangladesh.
“Unidentified attackers entered an apartment at Kalabagan and hacked two people to death,” Maruf Hossain Sarder, a Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman, told the AFP news agency.
Amnesty International identified the other man killed as Tanay Mojumdar.
“The brutal killing today of an editor of an LGBTI 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,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia director.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the killing a “barbaric murder.”
“An act like this simply is beyond words, unjustifiable, inexcusable,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Hasina vowed to hunt down and prosecute those responsible.
The deaths of Mannan and his friend adds to a series of horrific murders of bloggers and academics in the country. It comes two days after Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, an English professor, was hacked to death with machetes as he walked from his home to a bus station in the north-western city of Rajshahi.
Homosexuality is technically illegal in Bangladesh and remains a highly sensitive issue in society.