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Bangladesh militants jailed for 500 bombings

Five members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen have been handed a decade-long prison sentence. They have been found guilty of aiding a string of bombings aimed at imposing Sharia law in the moderate Muslim nation.

Five radical Islamists were sentenced to ten years in prison by a Bangladesh court on Monday after being found guilty of involvement in a wave of bombing attacks in 2005. The group sought to implement Sharia law in the Muslim-majority nation, where the legal system is based on British common law.

The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen terrorist group detonated almost 500 bombs nearly simultaneously on August 17, 2005 across 300 locations in 50 Bangladeshi cities. Despite the impressive number of explosives, the attacks resulted in only two fatalities, a child and a rickshaw driver.

Six members of the group, one of whom was acquitted due to lack of evidence, stood trial over the bombings.

Since the 2005 attacks, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen launched a series of suicide attacks on courthouses, killing 25 people in total. They group had been suspected of lying low since six of its leaders were executed in 2007, but recently they appear to have become active again - including launching an attack on a Shiite shrine and shooting three foreigners, two of whom lost their lives.

The "Islamic State" (IS) jihadi group had claimed responsibility for some of the incidents, but the government in Dhaka has denied that there is an IS presence in the country.

Islamist violence has been on the upswing in Bangladesh since last year, with four bloggers and a publisher killed as activists and religious minorities find themselves

targeted by terrorists.

Authorities have killed five other members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen in shootouts since November as part of a new offensive against radical Islam.

Watch video 02:35

Bangladeshi bloggers in Islamist crosshairs

es/rc (Reuters, AP)

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