(CNN) A U.S. Embassy worker and editor of Bangladesh’s first LGBT magazine was among two men hacked to death Monday evening in Dhaka, officials say.
A statement from the U.S. Embassy identified the man as Xulhaz Mannan, calling him a “dear friend.”
“We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the Government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders,” Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, said in the statement.
Mannan and someone described only as a friend were in a flat in Dhaka when five or six young men posing as couriers arrived at Mannan’s building under the guise of delivering a package, said Mohammad Iqbal, officer in charge of the Kalabagan police station.
They entered the second-floor apartment and hacked Mannan and his friend to death with machetes, Iqbal said. Mannan’s mother and a maid were also in the flat at the time, he said. Both are alive.
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.
Mannan was the editor of Roopbaan, a Dhaka-based LGBT magazine that describes itself as “a platform and publication promoting human right and freedom to love in Bangladesh.”
The killings come a day after Bangladeshi police detained a university student in the hacking death of 58-year-old Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English teacher at Rajshahi University.
Rajshahi police Commissioner Mohammad Shamsuddin said the student wasn’t charged and it remained unclear whhy Siddique had been stabbed in the neck as he awaited a bus to take him to campus Saturday.
“He was neither a blogger nor an anti-Islamic campaigner, but the pattern of the murder indicates Islamist militants involved in the recent spate of killings of secular bloggers might have a link,” Shamsuddin said.
ISIS claimed responsibility for Siddique’s death, saying he was slain “for calling to atheism.” CNN could not independently confirm either the terror outfit’s claim or Siddique’s religious beliefs.
Reports of hacking deaths go back to 2013 in Bangladesh, most of them targeting bloggers. Since last year, Nazimuddin Samad, Faisal Arefin Dipan, Ananta Bijoy Das, Niloy Neel, Washiqur Rahman and Avijit Roy are among the writers who have been killed.
In September, Islamic extremists said they wanted to take their war against secular writers beyond Bangladesh’s borders. They released a “hit list” of people they would target in Europe and North America.
“Let Bangladesh revoke the citizenship of these enemies of Islam,” a statement accompanying the list says. “If not, we will hunt them down in whatever part of God’s world we find them and kill them right there.”
Amnesty alleges that Bangladesh authorities have done little to discourage such attacks. Exiled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists told the watchdog group that when they attempted to report threats to authorities, police responded by warning them they could be charged with “unnatural offenses.”
Rather than offer security, Amnesty said, police have warned LGBT activists to be “less provocative.”
“While the Bangladeshi authorities have failed to bring these violent groups to justice, the attackers have expanded their range of targets to now include a university professor and LGBTI activists,” Patel said.
CNN’s Ravi Agrawal, Holly Yan, Deborah Bloom and journalist Farid Ahmed contributed to this report.