Just hours after two LGBT activists were hacked to death in Dhaka’s Kalabagan, the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the double murder.
Like they did after several similar killings in the past, the AQIS posted an image on its Twitter account to claim they were behind the recent murders.
“The mujahidin of Ansar al-Islam (AQIS, Bangladesh branch) were able to assassin [sic] Xulhaz Mannan and his associate Samir Mahbub Tonoy. They were the pioneers of practising and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh,” read the AQIS Twitter post.
“They were working day and night to promote homosexuality among the people of this land since 1998 with the help of their masters, the US crusaders and its Indian allies,” read the post allegedly posted by AQIS Spokesperson Mufti Abdullah Ashraf.
However, the claim of AQIS involvement in the murders was immediately snubbed by the police.
Maruf Hossain Sardar, deputy commissioner (media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We do not know anything about the AQIS claim. We are investigating the matter from our own view.”
Thirty-five-year-old Xulhaz Mannan, editor of Bangladesh’s first LGBT magazine Roopbaan, and his 25-year-old friend Mahbub Tonoy, also an LGBT activist, were hacked to death in a flat at Dhaka’s Kalabagan on Monday evening.
Assailants identified themselves as courier service deliverymen to enter the flat before launching the attack with machetes. In a mode of operation that has become a hallmark for religious extremists, the killers quickly hacked away at the victims before fleeing the scene within minutes.
“We have seen such kind of activities and attacking style among the members of Ansarullah
Bangla Team and we are also suspecting that it is an act of that militant outfit for the victims’ involvement in promoting LGBT activities,” a senior Detective Branch official told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
He also expressed hopes that a mobile phone found at the
crime scene along with security footage from CCTV cameras would lead the police straight to the perpetrators.
So far, two cases have been filed with Kalabagan police station against unidentified assailants. Xulhaz’s brother Minhaz Mannan Emon and Sub-Inspector Shamim Ahmed have filed the cases, said Kalabagan police OC Mohammad Iqbal. However, no arrest has been made yet.
According to the case statement, police recovered two pistols, one unused machete, some clothes and a bag dropped by one of the assailants when he was shooting at ASI Mamtaz.
In the wake of the killings, many of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists in Bangladesh said they were too shocked to react. Several of them told the Dhaka Tribune that they would soon go into hiding as they the feared that the same might happen to them as well.
Earlier this month, LGBT activists cancelled their scheduled rainbow rally – an annual procession since 2014 that celebrate the country’s LGBT community – on Pohela Boishakh.
After the rainbow rally programme was announced this year, different fundamentalist groups aggressively campaigned against it on Facebook and other social networking sites. They also issued threats against the organisers.