Death for 21 bomb militants
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DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNN) -- A Bangladeshi court has sentenced 21 Islamic militants to death for their roles in a series of bomb attacks across the country six months ago, according to a government official.
The men, who are between the ages of 19 and 24, are members of the banned Islamic militant group Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), which is dedicated to establishing Islamic rule in Bangladesh, according to the official and police.
On August 17, 2005, Islamic militants detonated more than 500 bombs nearly simultaneously in 36 districts across Bangladesh.
JMB distributed leaflets near the blast sites claiming responsibility for the coordinated attacks, which killed one person and injured more than 150.
The men can appeal Tuesday's guilty verdict, reached by district judge in Jhenidah, southwest of Dhaka, according to a Ministry of Home Affairs official.
Police say JMB has a suicide squad of 2,000 members and has vowed to attack court buildings, administrative targets, cultural organizations, non-governmental organizations and what it calls liberal democratic political organizations.
In late November and early December, more than 20 Bangladeshis died in bombing attacks on a police checkpoint, court buildings, and cultural center.
All of those attacks were linked by police to JMB.
In what the government called a major success in its anti-militancy drive, Bangladesh's elite police force Tuesday arrested Hafez Mahmud, considered JMB's "think tank." He was detained near the national mosque in Dhaka.
Police are still searching for JMB's top leaders: Sheik Abdurrahman and his second in command, Siddiqul Islam, also known as Bangla Bhai.
Journalist Tasneem Khalil in Dhaka contributed to this report.
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