Five Bangladesh militants jailed for 10 years for bombings

DHAKA: A court in Bangladesh on Monday jailed five militants of a banned Islamist group for 10 years over bombings in 2005 that formed part of a series of blasts across the Muslim-majority nation.

The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group set off nearly 500 bombs almost simultaneously on a single day in 2005, including the capital Dhaka.

Subsequent suicide attacks on courthouses by its militants killed 25 people and injured hundreds.

Five members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group were convicted and sentenced for the explosions in the southeastern district of Rangamati, court inspector Mominul Islam said.

"Six militants were charged with the bombings," he told Reuters by telephone. "And five of them were convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail, while one was acquitted."

The group, thought to have been lying low since six of its top leaders were hanged in 2007, is blamed for a spate of recent attacks, including the bombings of a Shi'ite shrine and the shooting of three foreigners, two of whom died.

Last year, four bloggers and a publisher were killed in Bangladesh, amid a rise in Islamist violence in which liberal activists, members of minority Muslim sects and other religious groups have been targeted.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, but the government has denied that the militant group has a presence in Bangladesh.

At least five militants of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen have been killed in shootouts since November, as security forces stepped up a crackdown on Islamist militants seeking to make the moderate Muslim nation of 160 million a sharia-based state.