U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the murder of Bangladeshi gay rights activist Xulhaz Mannan, who was an employee of the U.S. embassy in Dhaka. Kerry said in a statement late Monday: “We are profoundly saddened by the loss of one of our own in such a senseless act of violence.” He also said Xulhaz “embodied the spirit of the people of Bangladesh and the pride with which they guard their traditions of tolerance, peace, and diversity.” USAID official Mannan, who also worked as a protocol officer in the U.S. embassy in Dhaka, was at his home with his friend, Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, when five attackers arrived, disguised as couriers and pounced on them with machetes. Mannan, 35, who was the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban, and fellow gay rights activist and theater worker, Tanoy, 26, died on the spot. Earlier this month, Mannan said he had been receiving online death threats from Islamists opposed to his rights activities. The U.S. State Department said, “We are outraged” by the killings, and Marcia Bernicat, U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, said she is “devastated by the brutal murder” of Mannan and Tanoy. “Xulhaz was more than a colleague to those of us fortunate to work with him at the U.S. Embassy. He was a dear friend,” the ambassador said in a statement.
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