Two men from a group connected to al-Qaeda killed a Yemeni man, whom they accused of being gay, on Monday in Yemen’s southern Lahj province, according to a police source the Agence France-Presse reports.
A source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the publication that attackers belonging to the Ansar al-Sharia group, which is on the United States terror list, opened fire on Hashem Al-Asmi, 20, and that the suspects fled the scene on motorbikes after killing the young man.
A witness who knew the victim told CNN that the militants urged Al-Asmi to stop his homosexual activity at least twice, and warned him that he would be killed if he continued his lifestyle.
"Many extremists live in Lahj, and being gay is unacceptable to nearly everyone in the province," a Yemeni security official in the province told CNN. The official also asked that his identity be kept a secret, because he is not allowed to talk to the media. "This incident has the hallmarks of extremist groups, but al Qaeda has not announced responsibility for the attack," the official added.
The official also said that residents in the area did not report the killing to police and local security did not find the body until two hours after the shooting.
CNN also reports that Al-Asimi was not completely out, and the witness said that he was not in a relationship.
"Ansar al-Sharia is the local branch of al-Qaeda in Yemen where the network, although weakened, is still active mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country," AFP writes. "Al-Qaeda loyalists seized large swathes of Yemen’s south and east in 2011, taking advantage of a decline in central government control during an 11-month uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power."
Homosexuality is illegal in Yemen, according to the country’s Shari’ah legal system. Members of the LGBT community can suffer discrimination or face legal action and social challenges. Performance of same-sex acts is punishable by death.
From our media partner EDGE.
Jason St. Amand