DHAKA (Reuters) -A Bangladesh court has sentenced a member of an outlawed Islamist group to 15 years in prison for involvement in serial bomb attacks across the country in August, a police officer said on Monday.
Two people were killed and almost 100 wounded when 500 bombs went off on August 17, blamed on Islamist militant groups fighting to turn Bangladesh, a mainly Muslim democracy, into an Islamic sharia state.
The court in Kishoreganj town, 150 km (95 miles) from Dhaka, found Obaidullah Suman, an activist of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group, guilty of possessing bombs and helping plant them, a court official said.
The sentencing was the first since almost 800 suspected militants were detained.
“The verdict will act as an warning against anyone who wants to be involved with the extremist group,” a police officer said.
The spiritual leader of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, Shayek Abdur Rahman, and the head of the banned Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai, remain at large.
The militants have also targeted courts and judges in their campaign for sharia law in Bangladesh, the world’s third most populous Muslim nation.
Britain’s envoy to Bangladesh said the country had achieved some success in tackling militants, but the campaign must be carried through to the end.
“We hope this continues and does not become tangled up in the usual party politics and past intricacies that often seem to paralyze progress of the country,” Anwar Choudhury said in a statement.
Choudhury was wounded in a bomb attack by suspected Islamist extremists during a trip to the shrine of a Muslim saint in the northeastern town of Sylhet in May 2004. Three people, including a bodyguard of Choudhury, were killed.