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Top Islamist to be hanged after president rejects clemency plea

Bangladesh's home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal confirmed the news, saying Kashimpur jail authorities have started the preparation for his execution. Photograph: (Zee News Network)

AFP Dhaka, Dhaka Division, Bangladesh Apr 09, 2017, 10.07 AM (IST)

A top Islamist will be hanged after Bangladesh's president rejected a mercy plea.

Mufti Abdul Hannan and two associates were handed the death sentence for attacking a shrine that left three people dead and wounded the British high commissioner at the time.

Bangladesh's highest court last month upheld a 2008 death sentence on Mufti Abdul Hannan and two associates for an attack Hazrat Shahjalal’s shrine in 2004. The deadly attack left three people dead and injured the British high commissioner at the time.

Hannan was also sentenced to death for his role in Ramna Batamul attack in 2001.

Last month, Hannan had written to President Abdul Hamid seeking clemency.  

"But the president has rejected all three mercy petitions," his press secretary Joynal Abedin told AFP.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal confirmed the news, saying Kashimpur jail authorities have started the preparation for his execution.

"Mufti Hannan will be executed anytime," Dhaka Tribune quoted the minister as saying.

Authorities have not announced a date but the executions are expected sometime this month. 

Hannan headed the Harkat-ul Jihad Al Islami (HuJI) group.  The attack on the British ambassador in 2004 was among the most high-profile of a series of assaults by the group across Bangladesh in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The decision to reject clemency comes just weeks after militants attempted to free Hannan by hurling bombs at police vans as police transferred him between prisons.

By the time Hannan was arrested in late 2005 more than 100 people had been killed in attacks by HuJI on a church, secular gatherings and mosques used by Islam's minority sects.

Bangladesh has suffered a spate of attacks on secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities in recent years. 

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have claimed responsibility in some cases but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's secular government has pinned the blame on local outfits.

There has been a resurgence of Islamist extremist attacks in recent weeks, with at least three being claimed by IS. 

The fatalities included the head of intelligence of an elite security force tasked with tacking Islamist militancy across the Muslim-majority country.      

Police and army commandos have arrested scores of suspected extremists and killed more than 60 people since an attack on a Dhaka cafe last year that left 22 dead.

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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