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Bangladesh hangs extremist leader over 2005 blast

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DHAKA, BANGLADESH: Prison authorities in Bangladesh’s southern city of Khulna on Sunday executed a senior extremist whose banned group has been linked to the murder of foreign hostages, police said.

Asadul Islam, 42, a leader of the outlawed Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), was hanged for his role in a 2005 blast that killed two judges.

Bangladesh has blamed the JMB for a July 1 attack on an upmarket Dhaka cafe in which 22 people, mostly foreign hostages, were shot and hacked to death.

“He was hanged to death at 10:30 pm (1630 GMT) in Khulna jail,” Khulna Police Commissioner Nibhas Chandra Majhi said, adding that there was heavy security around the jail to prevent any violence.

Asadul Islam, also known as Arif, was one of seven senior JMB officials, including founding leader Shaikh Abdur Rahman, sentenced to death for a bomb attack on a minibus that killed two lower court judges on November 14, 2005.

Six of the men, including Rahman, were executed in March 2007 by a military-backed caretaker government as part of a nationwide crackdown on extremists.

Arif was sentenced in absentia and was not detained until July 2007. He has been held in Khulna jail ever since. In August, the Supreme Court dismissed his final appeal.

His execution comes as Bangladeshi security forces push a deadly new crackdown against extremists following the cafe attack that has shaken the image of Bangladesh as a moderate Muslim nation.

Since July, police have shot dead nearly 40 suspected extremists including JMB’s new leader Tamim Chowdhury, a Canadian citizen of Bangladesh descent who allegedly masterminded the cafe carnage.

As part of the crackdown, Bangladesh’s courts have also fast-tracked prosecution of extremists, scores of whom were facing death sentences and languishing in the country’s jails.

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