Two days after the murder of Rajshahi University professor AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee in a similar fashion, the country’s first LGBT magazine editor Xulhaz Mannan, 35, was killed at his home in Dhaka’s Kalabagan along with one of his friends, Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, a theatre activist.
Xulhaz, a USAID programme officer, edited ‘Roopbaan’, the first magazine in Bangladesh that advocates for the rights of gays.
The gay-rights activist had also worked as an assistant protocol officer at the US embassy in Dhaka.
He is a cousin to former foreign minister and Awami League Joint General Secretary Dipu Moni.
The attackers also injured a security guard of the building, Parvez Molla.
An assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of police, ‘Momtaz’, was also injured trying to stop the assault, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Senior Assistant Commissioner Shibli Noman said.
Witnesses said some youths, clad in T-shirts and jeans, fled after firing from their guns and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’.
Police did not immediately say who carried out the attack. But the killings of Xulhaz and Tonoy bore a chilling similarity to those of secular bloggers and online activists in the recent past.
The latest murders made a mockery of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal’s claim that Saturday’s murder of Prof Siddiquee and the killing of a retired prisons guard in Gazipur on Monday morning were ‘stray incidents’ and the people should not feel insecure.
Xulhaz lived in a flat on the first floor of Asia Nibas. At least six men raided his home around 5pm and hacked him and Tonoy with sharp weapons, security guard ‘Sumon’ told bdnews24.com.
Molla, the injured security guard, was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
He received a wound inflicted by a sharp weapon on the left side of his forehead when he tried to thwart the attack.
Molla told reporters, “Three persons came to the building and said there was a parcel for Mr Xulhaz.”
Molla followed them up to Xulhaz’s apartment on the first floor, where he lived with his mother.
“I told them to go since sir didn’t let them in. Suddenly, they attacked me.”
Molla said as he fell down, the youths barged into the apartment and started hacking Xulhaz and Tonoy.
He said the assailants also had firearms with them.
“I cried out. Sir also cried out. I heard gunshots on the ground floor,” he added.
A resident of the building told bdnews24.com that no-one had opened door in panic during the incident.
“Nobody could muster the courage to step forward even after hearing them cry out.”
A woman said she saw five to seven youths leaving the house. “Some others chased them. They fled shouting ‘Allahu Akbar through the Tentultala playground,” she said.
She said she saw at least four of the youths brandishing firearms. “They fired several rounds after coming out of the building.”
Another witness said the attackers were carrying laptop bags.
Police said the attackers in previous such incidents carried bags.
A Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) official told bdnews24.com on condition of anonymity that the assailants were five in number.
The injured ASI, Momtaz, snatched a bag from the attackers, Senior AC Noman said.
He did not say what was found inside the bag.