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Anger builds over slain Bangladeshi activists

Rights groups have urged the Bangladeshi government to do more to stop the killings of secular activists by Islamist militants. Unknown assailants burst in and hacked two men to death in a Dhaka apartment on Monday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday condemned

the brutal killings of 35-year-old USAID employee Xulhaz Mannan and an unidentified male friend

who were hacked to death by unknown assailants.

"We remain committed to the principles that were so important to Xulhaz and we promise to support all those who work on behalf of tolerance and human rights in Bangladesh and around the world," Kerry said in a statement.

Mannan was the editor of transgender magazine "Rupban," the country's only magazine aimed at an LGBT audience.

Security guard Mohammed Parvez told reporters that five or six young men posing as couriers entered the apartment building where Mannan lived and went upstairs to his flat. Parvez said they slashed at him with knives later when they left. He was treated in hospital for his injuries.

Bangladesch Aktivist Nazimuddin Samad

Secular activist Nazimuddin Samad was murdered as he was walking home from a law class at a Dhaka university on April 6, 2016

Authorities say suspected radical Islamists were behind the attack, which occurred just two days after

university professor Rezaul Karim Siddique was hacked to death

in a similarly grotesque manner.

The US government earlier this month said it is considering granting asylum to a number of secular bloggers in Bangladesh facing imminent danger from violent extremists.

Killings not an isolated incident

London-based Amnesty International pressed the Bangladeshi government to do more to stop such killings. The group noted that homosexual relations are considered a crime under Bangladeshi law, making it harder for gay activists to report any threats against them.

"There have been four deplorable killings so far this month alone,” said South Asia director, Champa Patel. "It is shocking that no one has been held to account for these horrific attacks, and that

almost no protection has been given

to threatened members of civil society."

Watch video 02:35

Bangladeshi bloggers in Islamist crosshairs

Bangladesh has been struck by a wave of deadly attacks on foreigners, religious minorities and secular bloggers, raising fears that religious extremists are gaining a foothold in the country, despite a long tradition of relative tolerance for secular lifestyles.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has cracked down on radical Islamists.

The so-called "Islamic State" group has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including Saturday's killing of Siddique.

jar/jr (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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