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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 07:33 GMT
Bangladesh plans anti-terror law
Security personnel inspect the wreckage after a bomb exploded in Gazipur
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen is blamed for a series of bomb attacks
Bangladesh plans to introduce a new anti-terrorism law, including a death sentence for those convicted of terrorist acts, a minister says.

The government is trying to counter a string of deadly bombings, assumed to be the work of Islamic militants.

"The existing laws are not enough to deal with this type of violence. We need a new anti-terrorism law," said Law Minister Moudud Ahmed.

Nearly 30 people have died in a series of suicide bombings since August.

The attacks have targeted judges, lawyers, police and journalists.

Faster trials

Police have arrested almost 800 suspects, many of them members of the militant Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which is demanding hardline Islamic law in secular Bangladesh.

They include the group's suspected operations commander, Ataur Rahman Sunny, who was held during a raid in the capital, Dhaka, last Wednesday.

"What we are planning is a comprehensive law to tackle terrorism," Mr Ahmed told a Bangladesh TV station.

He said the legislation would cover everyone from those who "encourage, motivate, provide training and money to those who are involved in the terrorist acts".

He promised that the maximum sentence would be boosted from 10 years to death, and that special tribunals would speed up trials.

'Anyone a target'

Meanwhile Christian leaders in Bangladesh said they were planning special precautions to guard against the threat of violence over the Christmas period.

Churches have not been the target of the recent attacks, but senior priests said they would be taking measures, such as checking churchgoers and closing church car parks, to protect congregations.

"While terrorists resort to bombings in the name of religion, anyone can be a target," said Father Benjamin De Costa, principal of Dhaka's Notre Dame College.

"In the present circumstances, nothing can be ruled out."

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