The editor of a transgender magazine in Bangladesh was one of two people hacked to death in the capital city Dhaka on Monday, in an attack suspected to have been carried out by Islamist militants just two days after a university professor was killed in a similar fashion.
One of the victims was Julhas Mannan, who ran the transgender magazine Roopbaan, a police official told Reuters. The official said that three people came to his apartment in Dhaka posing as couriers and attacked him. A second person died and another was injured, according to the BBC. Roopbaan is the country's first magazine focused on LGBT issues, and Mannanalso worked for USAID, an American agency that provides humanitarian assistance and foreign aid abroad.
The Muslim-majority country of 160 million people has seen a surge in violent attacks over the past few months in which liberal activists, members of minority Muslim sects, and other religious groups have been targeted.
Most recently, a university professor was hacked to death on Saturday in northwestern Bangladesh, with the Islamic State claiming responsibility for the latest in a series of attacks on liberal activists. Two assailants on a motorcycle attacked Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, 58, an English professor at Rajshahi University, slitting his throat and hacking him to death, Rajshahi city police chief Mohammad Shamsuddin told reporters following the violent incident.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of the professor for his "call to atheism," SITE intelligence group reported quoting the militant group's Amaq news outlet.
While the murder was similar to other recent attacks on secular bloggers by Islamist militants, fellow university teachers said Siddiquee was active in cultural events but never spoke or wrote anything about religion or Islam. The gruesome killing triggered a protest by teachers and students at the university, who blocked a major road and demanded the immediate arrest of the killers.
Five secular bloggers and a publisher have been hacked to death in Bangladesh since February last year in attacks claimed by violent Islamic extremists.
Hefazat-e Islam, a coalition of extremist factions who came together to challenge Bangladesh's traditional secularism and politics, first rose to notoriety after they murdered the young blogger Rajib Haider in February 2013. Ansar Bangla is another extremist group active in Bangladesh that has frequently claimed responsibility for killing bloggers or secular academics for their alleged advocation of atheism.
While Islamic State has also claimed responsibility for the killings of two foreigners, and attacks on mosques and Christian priests in Bangladesh since September, police have said local militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen was behind those attacks. The government has denied that the Islamic State or al Qaeda groups have a presence in Bangladesh. Authorities have pegged several other attacks on Ansar Bangla.
At least five militants have been killed in shootouts since November as security forces have cracked down on Islamist militants looking to establish a sharia-based Muslim state.