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Pakistani court sentences two militants to death

Written by: Staff
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QUETTA, Pakistan, Mar 22 (Reuters) A Pakistani court today sentenced to death two bomb-makers involved in a sectarian attack that killed 43 people at Muslim shrine in southwest Pakistan a year ago, lawyers said.

While receiving life terms for their role in the attack on the shrine near Gandhawa town in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, the two men were sentenced to death after being found guilty of a subsequent attempt to assemble a bomb.

The anti-terrorism court in Sibi district, where Gandhawa is located, also sentenced three other men to life in prison for the attack on the shrine dedicated to a Muslim saint.

The convicted men were all members of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (Pakistan Army of the Companions of the Prophet) militant organisation.

''All the five have been sentenced to jail for life in the shrine attack case, while two of them have been given a death sentence in the bomb-making case,'' prosecution lawyer Salam Marri told Reuters, adding that the men can appeal against the sentences.

Just days after the attack, the militants were arrested at a mosque in Usta Mohammad town after a bomb they were making exploded, injuring one of them.

Thousands of people had gathered at the shrine for an annual celebration when the blasts occurred.

Sipah-e-Sahaba is a radical Sunni Muslim group which opposes Sufism, a mystical version of Islam propagated by saints. The group was banned by the government in 2002 as part of Pakistan's campaign to rein in Islamist militants.

Baluchistan, Pakistan's largest but poorest province, has a history of sectarian violence. Tribal militants in the province are also fighting for greater autonomy.

REUTERS DKS VC1840

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