John Kerry urges Bangladesh to investigate the killing of a gay-rights activist

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Bangladesh to ensure a thorough investigation into the killing this week of a gay rights advocate employed by the U.S. embassy, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.
The agency said in a statement that Kerry had spoken with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by telephone on Thursday and offered U.S. support for the investigation.

Kerry condemned recent attacks in Bangladesh and urged the country to redouble efforts to prevent extreme violence.

A group affiliated with al Qaeda claimed responsibility for killing Xulhaz Mannan, editor of Bangladesh’s first magazine for gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and his friend, actor Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy.

Islamist militants have targeted a secular activist and blogger, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers in killings dating back to February 2015 that have claimed at least 17 lives.

The death of Mannan, who also worked for U.S. aid agency USAID, has caused particular alarm because his links to a powerful Western government did not keep him safe.

International human rights groups have said a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of such crimes.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Toni Reinhold)