NEW DELHI (AP) — Bangladesh’s prime minister vowed to hunt down and prosecute assailants who fatally stabbed two men, including a gay rights activist who also worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina blamed the main opposition party and allied militants for Monday night’s killings. But a different group of radical Islamists claimed responsibility Tuesday for the attack, raising doubts about Hasina’s repeated assurances that authorities have the security situation under control even as months of deadly attacks continue against outspoken atheists, moderates and foreigners.
The victims of the most recent attack were identified as USAID employee Xulhaz Mannan, who previously worked as a U.S. Embassy protocol officer, and his friend, theater actor Tanay Majumder.
Mannan, a cousin of former Foreign Minister Dipu Moni of the governing party, was also an editor of Bangladesh’s first gay rights magazine, Roopbaan. Majumder sometimes helped with the publishing, local media said.
The banned group Ansar-al Islam, the Bangladeshi branch of al-Qaida on the Indian subcontinent, claimed responsibility in a Twitter message Tuesday for what it called a “blessed attack.”
It said the two were killed because they were “pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh” and were “working day and night to promote homosexuality … with the help of their masters, the U.S. crusaders and its Indian allies.”