Five Islamist militants were sentenced to death in Bangladesh Tuesday for the murder of a prominent blogger who was critical of religious extremism.Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal Judge Majibur Rahman sentenced members of  the al-Qaida-inspired domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team. He also sentenced one man to life in prison.The militants were sentenced for the murder of Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen. Roy was hacked to death in the streets of Dhaka as he and his wife walked home from a book fair.Roy’s wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed, sustained head injuries and lost a finger. She now lives in the United States.Police say the group is also responsible for the killings of more than a dozen bloggers and activists.Two other defendants, including ousted army major Sayed Ziaul Haque Zia, were tried in absentia. Public prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan said Sayed Ziaul Haque Zia is the group’s leader, who planned Roy’s murder.Judge Rahman said the prosecution proved the charges against all six defendants without any reasonable doubt.The sentences were handed down in the same Dhaka court that sentenced eight Islamic militants to death last week for the 2015 murder of a publisher of books on secularism and atheism.Defense attorney Nazrul Islam said his clients would appeal the sentences.A series of deadly attacks in the Muslim-majority country occurred between 2013 and 2016 against bloggers, religious minorities and secular activists. Islamic State or groups aligned with al-Qaida claimed responsibility.The most deadly attack occurred in July 2016, when gunmen killed 22 people after storming a cafe in Dhaka’s diplomatic community.A subsequent government crackdown led to the killings of more than 100 suspected militants and the arrest of hundreds of others. 

leave a reply