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Bangladesh executes Islamist extremist for 2005 bomb attack

The death penalty has popular support in Bangladesh, where even secular activists want to it be used in cases of rape

AFP, Dhaka

AFP, Dhaka

Published: July 16, 2021 08:26 AM GMT

Updated: July 16, 2021 08:33 AM GMT

Bangladesh executes Islamist extremist for 2005 bomb attack

Bangladeshi Islamic political party activists attend a protest on June 4 at Baitul Mukarram Mosque in Dhaka against the violence against Uyghur Muslims in China and to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China. (Photo: AFP)

Bangladesh has executed a hardline Islamist for a 2005 bomb attack in which eight people died.

Asaduzzaman Ponir, 37, was hanged at Kashimpur High Security Prison at 11pm on July 15, the prison's chief Mohammed Gias Uddin told AFP on July 16.

Ponir was found guilty in 2008 of organizing the bombing of Udichi Shilphi Goshti, a secular cultural group in the northeastern district of Netrokona. An alleged suicide bomber was among those who died.

Ponir was a member of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a radical group that staged a series of attacks in 2005 on courts, administrative offices, Sufi Muslim shrines and cultural groups.

The group was founded in the 1990s by militants who had fought in Afghanistan before vowing to establish Islamic Sharia rule in Bangladesh.

Prison chief Uddin said Ponir had exhausted all his appeals, with his death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court and President Abdul Hamid rejecting a clemency appeal last month.

Five members of the splinter group attacked a Dhaka cafe in 2016, killing at least 22 people including 17 foreigners

Six JMB leaders, including its supreme leader Shaikh Abdur Rahman, were hanged in 2007.

A JMB offshoot, reportedly linked to the Islamic State group, has emerged in recent years and was blamed for deadly attacks on foreigners, atheists and LGBT activists between 2013 and 2016.

Five members of the splinter group attacked a Dhaka cafe in 2016, killing at least 22 people including 17 foreigners.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has since cracked down on suspected extremists, with more than 100 killed in raids since 2016.

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A number of people are executed each year in Bangladesh, where the death penalty has popular support and even secular activists have called for it to be used in cases of rape.

At least 2,000 convicts are on death row, according to the New Age newspaper.

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