Bangladesh sentences to death 10 Islamists for suicide bombing

DHAKA Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:11am EDT

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DHAKA (Reuters) - A Bangladeshi court handed down death sentences on Thursday to 10 militants of an Islamist group with ties to Al-Qaeda over a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed eight people, court officials and lawyers said.

Violent protests have gripped Bangladesh this year following the conviction of members of the overwhelmingly Muslim nation's most prominent Islamist group, the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Thursday's case involved a less well-known group, and the decision is unlikely to spark public anger. The convicted men have 30 days to appeal to the high court against their sentence.

"The JMB carried out the attack to create a panic among the people to press the government to enforce Islamic sharia," said lawyer Rafiqul Islam, who presented the state's case.

The 2005 attack on the bar association office in Gazipur, north of the capital Dhaka, was staged by the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), to lobby for the introduction of sharia, or Muslim religious law.

Eight people were killed, four of them lawyers, and 80 were injured. One JMB member died while carrying out the attack.

The JMB was led by Siddique ul-Islam, popularly known as "Bangla Bhai" or "Bengali Brother", who battled alongside Afghanistan's mujahideen in the Soviet intervention in the 1980s.

After a campaign of bombings in northern Bangladesh in 2005, he was caught and sentenced to death.

(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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