U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Bangladesh to track down those responsible for the murder of a gay-rights activist who also worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Kerry telephoned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday night to discuss the killing this week of USAID worker Xulhaz Mannan and his friend, Tanay Majumder, an actor.
The Bangladeshi branch of al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the murders, saying the victims were targeted because they were "pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality."
The prime minister's press secretary, Ihsanul Karim, said Hasina assured Kerry of her government's full cooperation in the case, the latest in a series of violent attacks against non-Muslim activists and authors in Bangladesh.
"Our position is firm against terrorism," Karim said. "We are following a 'zero tolerance' policy [against such violence]. Our law-enforcing agencies are working hard."
Mannan, an editor of Bangladesh's first gay-rights magazine, and his friend were hacked to death in the capital, Dhaka. Hasina is said to have advised Kerry that evidence uncovered since the killings on Tuesday could lead to arrests soon.
Kerry was quoted as saying that he will send a high-ranking U.S. diplomat to Dhaka to strengthen the countries' joint counter-terrorism efforts.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.