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Bangladesh police arrest suspect in gay activist's killing

Published 15/05/2016

Bangladesh detectives escort a man who they have identified as Shariful Islam Shihab, a former member of the banned Islamic group Harkatul Jihad (AP)
Bangladesh detectives escort a man who they have identified as Shariful Islam Shihab, a former member of the banned Islamic group Harkatul Jihad (AP)

Police in Bangladesh say they have arrested a suspected Muslim militant over the killing of a gay rights activist and his friend in Dhaka.

Officers identified the suspect as Shariful Islam Shibab, a former member of a banned Islamic group, Harkatul Jihad, who joined another militant group, Ansarullah Bangla Team, in mid-2015.

Munirul Islam, head of a newly formed police counter-terrorism unit, told a news conference that Shibab was arrested in the south-western district of Kushtia based on evidence from the investigation.

The Bangladeshi branch of al Qaida had claimed the April 25 killing of Xulhaz Mannan, an employee of the US Agency for International Development, and his friend Tanay Majumder in the Bangladeshi capital.

Only one of 15 such killings has been prosecuted since 2013.

Mr Islam said 37-year-old Shihab allegedly killed Mr Mannan because he promoted the gay community's cause through a magazine as an editor.

He said Shihab told police during questioning that he took part in stabbing Mr Mannan and Mr Majumder as ordered by his group's high command.

Police said earlier that they had identified at least five people who took part in the killings from video footage collected from buildings near the crime scene in the Kalabagan district.

"We are checking the footage to determine whether Shihab is visible there," Mr Islam said.

Mr Mannan was a cousin of former foreign minister Dipu Moni, of the governing Awami League party.

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