Reuters International

DHAKA (Reuters) - A court in Bangladesh sentenced six Islamist militants to hang on Tuesday for a bank robbery on the outskirts Dhaka in April that left eight people dead, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The gang killed the branch manager of state-run Bangladesh Commerce Bank to get the key to the vault and made off with 700,000 taka (6,095 pounds), detonating crude bombs as they fled.

Customers and onlookers gave chase and beat one robber to death. A total of eight men were killed during the incident.

The court also sentenced another man to life imprisonment and two others to three years in jail. Two other suspects were acquitted.

The verdict came amid a surge in Islamist violence in the majority-Muslim nation of 160 million people. Militants have targeted liberal bloggers, academics and members of religious minorities, killing several since early last year.

Police said the bank robbery was carried out by members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned militant group that has laid low since six of its leaders were hanged in 2007.

Dozens of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen members have been arrested and at least five, including the mastermind of the robbery, have been killed in shootouts since November, as security forces intensified a crackdown on militants fighting to impose strict Islamic law, or sharia, on the moderate Muslim nation.

In 2005, the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen set off nearly 500 bombs almost simultaneously on a single day, including in Dhaka. Subsequent suicide attacks on courts killed 25 people and injured hundreds.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

reuters_tickers

 Reuters International