— -- A U.S. embassy worker was one of two men murdered Monday evening in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, the U.S. State Department said today.
The employee, Xulhaz Mannan, was known as a "courageous advocate for LGBT rights," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a briefing today. He was murdered in his home alongside a fellow activist, Kirby said. Local reports say the men were hacked to death.
"Xulhaz was more than a colleague to those of us fortunate to work with him at the U.S. Embassy," wrote Ambassador Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat in a Facebook post. "He was a dear friend."
The embassy said it was a "brutal murder" that took the life of Mannan and another person, whom Amnesty International identified as Tanay Mojumdar.
"We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the Government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders," Bernicat wrote.
The U.S. is "outraged" by the attack, Kirby said.
"An act like this simply is beyond words, unjustifiable, inexcusable and our heartfelt condolences of course go out to his mother, to his family, to his friends, and to his colleagues, as well as all of those who knew and loved the other individual who was also brutally murdered with him," Kirby said today. "As we mourn his death we celebrate Xulhaz’s life and everything he contributed to Bangladesh, to the United States and to the global struggle for human rights and dignity. And we pledge our support to Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that the cowards who did this are held accountable."
While many details are not immediately available, several media outlets reported that Mannan was the editor of Roopbaan, a Dhaka-based nonprofit magazine for the LGBT community. Kirby described him as a member of the U.S. embassy family who did some work with the USAID.
Bangladesh is generally a moderate country with a diverse culture, though since February last year some suspected militants have killed secular or atheist writers and those in religious minority groups.