Jihadis hanged over failed killing of UK diplomat Anwar Choudhury

Russell Hope, News Reporter

Three Islamist extremists have been hanged in Bangladesh over the botched assassination of a British diplomat in 2004.

Mufti Hannan, the leader of banned group Harkatul Jihad (HuJI), and Sharif Shahedul Alam Bipul were hanged at Kashimpur Jail outside the capital Dhaka on Wednesday night.

A third man, Delwar Hossain, alias Ripon, was hanged in the northeastern town of Sylhet.

Three people died and several others were wounded as Hannan and his accomplices launched a grenade attack at a popular Islamic shrine, but the main target, then-British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury, narrowly escaped.

The trio were originally sentenced to death after their trial in 2008.

The verdicts were upheld by the country's appeal court last month and their sentences were carried out after the president rejected clemency appeals.

The HuJI was formed in Pakistan in 1992 by Bangladeshis, such as Hannan, who fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

The US has classified HuJI, which wanted to introduce sharia law to Bangladesh, as a "specially designated global terrorist".

The group has targeted left-leaning cultural groups and rallies of the now-ruling Bangladesh Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

It is blamed for other attacks between 1999 and 2005 which claimed more than 100 lives, and Indian officials suspect it was involved in the 2008 Jaipur serial bombings, which killed 67 people.

Since 2013, Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation governed by secular laws based on British common law, has suffered a spate of radical Islamist attacks on secular activists, bloggers, foreigners and religious minorities .

Despite a crackdown by Mr Hasina's government, several domestic militant groups have been active in recent years, leading to security forces killing around 55 suspected members of Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh in raids across the country since July.

The authorities have blamed it for several recent attacks, including the siege at a restaurant in July that left 22 hostages, including 18 foreigners, dead, and which was claimed by the Islamic State group.

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