Bangladesh upholds death sentences over 2004 attack on British envoy

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2016 2:51 AM

DHAKA (Reuters) - A Bangladesh court upheld death sentences on Thursday for three members of an outlawed Islamist militant group in connection with a grenade attack on the British ambassador in 2004.

The Islamists, including the head of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami group, were sentenced to death in 2008 for the attack in which three people were killed and about 50, including the then British high commissioner, Anwar Choudhury, were wounded.

"The high court today upheld death sentences for three, including the HUJI leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, and life imprisonment for two others in the attack," Sheikh Moniruzzaman Kabir, a public prosecutor, told reporters.

The attack came after Friday prayers at a Muslim shrine in the northeastern district of Sylhet. The Bangladesh-born British envoy was wounded in the leg.

The militant group was blamed for several other attacks, including a bomb attack later in 2004 on a rally by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was then the leader of the opposition.

Twenty-three people were killed and more than 150 wounded in that attack. Hasina suffered partial hearing loss.

The court ruling comes amid rising concern over the growth of Islamist militancy in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation, which saw a string of deadly attacks on secular writers, members of minorities and foreigners last year.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)