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Bangladesh opposition leaders to hang

Bangladesh's Supreme Court has dismissed the appeals from two opposition leaders convicted of crimes committed during the war of independence with Pakistan. The men will be hanged barring clemency from president.

Bangladesh's justice minister said Friday that two convicted leaders from the political opposition would be executed within days. The men, both in their 60s, are set to be hanged after losing final appeals to overturn their death sentences, the justice minister said Friday.

Appeals were exhausted Wednesday after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences, Law and Justice Minister Anisul Huq said.

A special war crimes tribunal convicted Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury of the former ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami in 2013 of several charges, including

genocide and rape during the 1971 war, in which Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, fought a successful war of secession.

"The entire nation is happy with the verdicts," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters Wednesday outside the packed court amid tight security.

Authorities then shut down Facebook and messaging and voice call services Viber and WhatsApp in an attempt to stop the men's supporters from mobilizing protests.

Chodhury and Mujahid are among more than a dozen leaders of the opposition alliance

convicted by a controversial war crimes tribunal

set up by the government in 2010.

The convictions triggered the country's deadliest violence since independence, with some 500 people killed, mainly in clashes between Jamaat sympathizers and security forces.

Rights groups have also

criticized the convictions and death sentences.

New York-based Human Rights Watch asked Bangladesh to halt the "imminent executions" in what it said was a flawed process.

"Unfair trials can't provide real justice, especially when the death penalty is imposed," Human Rights Watch's Asia director Brad Adams said.

Bangladesch Angriff Piero Arolari

Bangladesh's Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) inspect the site where an Italian priest was attacked near Dinajpur, 415 kilometers (260 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka, Wednesday, November 18, 2015

'Islamic State' claims responsibility for latest attack on foreigner

Bangladesh has seen a rise in Islamist violence in recent months, with two foreigners and four secular writers and a publisher killed this year.

The self-styled "Islamic State" has claimed responsibility for the latest attack on an Italian missionary in the country's north.

Piero Parolari, a priest and doctor who worked at the Suihari Catholic Mission in the city of Dinajpur, was

shot at close range Wednesday by three gunmen

on a motorbike.

"Security detachments of soldiers of the Caliphate in Bangladesh carried out some unique operations ... Targeting the Italian Crusader foreigner Piero Parolari," the jihadi monitoring organization SITE quoted the militant group as saying in a message posted on Twitter.

The attack followed the murders of an Italian faith-based aid worker in late September and a Japanese farmer last month, which were also claimed by IS.

Bangladeshi authorities have denied any evidence that IS militants are active in the South Asian country.

jar/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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