An anti-terrorist tribunal in Bangladesh on Wednesday sentenced seven members of a local Islamist group to death and acquitted another for killing 20 hostages and two police personnel after storming an upmarket café in Dhaka in 2016.
Seven members of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh targeted the Holey Artisan cafe in the trendy Gulshan neighbourhood frequented by foreign tourists to get noticed by Islamic State and the world community. Among those shot or hacked to death during a 12-hour siege were nine Italians, seven Japanese nationals, an Indian and a Bangladeshi-born American.
Two police officers were killed when they entered the cafe before military commandos stormed the building,killed all the militants and freed some two dozen hostages.
Pronouncing the ruling, Judge Mojibur Rahman said the attackers wanted to undermine public safety, create anarchy and establish a jihadiststate in the South AsianMuslim majority nation of 168 million.
Reacting to the sentencing, public persecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said the charges against the attackers were proved beyond doubt and they were given the highest punishment.
The defendants can appeal the ruling.
More than 100 Islamist terrorists were killed and hundreds of suspects were arrested following the attack.
A year before the attack on the cafe, local Islamist groups launched a wave of attacks on foreigners, religious minorities, writers, bloggers, social activists, atheists and priests dealing a major blow to the country’s image as a moderate Muslim nation.