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Bangladesh Executes Islamist Leader for Wartime Atrocities

FILE - Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Bangladesh's fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party.

Bangladesh has executed a top Islamist leader for crimes committed during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged early Wednesday inside Dhaka central jail.

A tribunal set up to investigate atrocities committed during the nine-month war more than 40 years ago convicted Nizami in 2014 on eight counts, including mass murder and arson. He denied all charges against him.

Bangladeshi authorities say Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and forced 10 million people to flee the country during the war in what was then known as East Pakistan, renamed Bangladesh after independence.

Security was tight across the country as authorities braced for protests like the ones that broke out after previous executions.

Nizami was the fifth senior official from opposition parties to be executed since 2013. Three other senior members of Jamaat-e-Islami and a top leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia also were hanged.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned the death sentence for Nizami. The human rights groups also raised questions about the trial standards, but the government rejected claims that the judicial procedures were flawed.

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