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Bangladesh arrests suspected militant over gay activists’ murders

world Updated: May 15, 2016 19:12 IST

Bangladesh activist Xulhaz Mannan as he attends a rally organised by a LGBT society in Dhaka.(AFP File Photo)

Bangladesh police have arrested a suspected Islamic militant over the death of two gay rights activists, one of a spate of murders of intellectuals, writers and religious minorities, police said on Sunday.

“We’ve arrested one man in connection with the murder of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy” who were hacked to death last month, Dhaka police spokesperson Maruf Hossain Sorder told AFP.

Police said the unnamed man was a member of a local Islamist militant outfit, which has been blamed for a string of similar gruesome murders of secular and atheist bloggers.

“He is a member of the Ansarullah Bangla Team,” Sorder said, referring to a local Islamist militant group.

Washington has condemned the killings of Tonoy and Mannan, who worked for US government aid organisation USAID. Both men had received threats from Islamists over their championing of gay rights.

The arrest comes after an elderly Buddhist monk was found hacked to death on Saturday in a temple in the southeastern district of Bandarban -- the seventh such killing since the start of last month.

Suspected Islamists have been blamed or claimed responsibility for the scores of murders carried out since last year, as fear grips the Muslim-majority nation over the rising violence.