Motiur Rahman Nizami, the chief of Bangladesh's largest Islamist political party, was hanged early Wednesday for crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

The execution of Nizami, 73, head of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, was carried out at Dhaka Central Jail, an official said.

“The execution was carried out at 12.10 am (Wednesday),” Jahangir Kabir told reporters.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the government deployed additional security forces across Bangladesh to maintain order after the execution as the Islamic party called a general strike for Thursday to protest the execution.

Nizami was first sentenced to death by the special war crimes tribunal in October 2014 for genocide, rape, incitement to religious hatred and other crimes against humanity during the nine-month war. He was convicted of eight out of a total 16 allegations.

Television footage showed several hundred activists cheering the execution at Dhaka's central Shahbagh crossing, and hoisting Bangladesh's national flag.

The activists, who have been asking the government to execute war crimes suspects, gathered near the Dhaka University campus as prison authorities were preparing for the execution in the evening.

Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the creation of Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, and collaborated with the Pakistani military in the war.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the special tribunal in 2010 to prosecute the local collaborators in the conflict.

An estimated 3 million people died and about 200,000 women were raped, according to Bangladesh government estimates. Independent researchers say the death toll was considerably lower.

An earlier initiative to prosecute war crimes was called off after the assassination of Bangladesh's founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Hasina, in 1975.

The opposition politician was head of the wartime vigilante al-Badr group and the Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha that aided the Pakistani military against unarmed civilians.

Nizami has been serving as head of the Islamist party since 2000. He was also a minister in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government of former prime minister Khaleda Zia from 2001 to 2006.

Arrested in 2010 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, Nizmai was detained later that year on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity during the war.

The Jamaat chief was earlier found guilty in an arms smuggling case of 2004 and sentenced to death by a court in the port city of Chittagong.

Almost the entire top leadership of the Jamaat-e-Islami party has been accused of crimes committed during the war.

Earlier, senior leaders of the party Abdul Kader Mollah, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, and Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were executed for their conviction in crimes against humanity.

Related stories

Latest news

Mosque attended by Berlin attacker Amri closed, police confirm

The mosque in Berlin attended by Berlin truck attacker Anis Amri has been closed. The mosque is permanently closed, read a note in German and Turkish on the door of the prayer rooms which was seen on Tuesday.

German army to expand to almost 200,000 soldiers

Germany's Bundeswehr, plans to expand its number of professional soldier to 198,000 by 2024 because of increasing duties, the German Defence Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Fired Audi engineer says he was 'sacrificed' for emissions scandal

A fired Audi engineer was "sacrificed" amid the ongoing VW group diesel emissions scandal, his lawyer claimed in court on Tuesday as he contested his client's dismissal.

French police arrest three over suspected terror plans, source says

French authorities have arrested three men in relation to suspected plans to carry out attacks in the country or travel to Syria, a source close to the investigation told dpa on Tuesday.

UN: Trial against Gaddafi regime was unfair, flawed

Former members of the Gaddafi regime did not get a fair trial in Libya because the proceedings were so seriously compromised, the United Nations criticized in a report on Monday.

Croatia remains Bosnia's biggest trade partner in 2016

Croatia is still the most important foreign trade partner to Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to figures released by the BiH Chamber of Foreign Trade which show that in 2016 the two countries' trade had gone up.

Red Cross: Bodies of 74 migrants wash ashore in Libya

The bodies of 74 migrants washed ashore in Libya, in the north-western city of Zawiya, a spokesman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Tuesday.

Ancelotti makes charity donation after middle finger gesture

Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti has agreed to donate 5,000 euros (5,200 dollars) to a charity run by the German football federation DFB following his middle finger gesture towards Hertha Berlin fans.

Azerbaijan's long-time leader Aliyev appoints wife as vice president

The long-time president of the oil-rich, Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, appointed his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, as vice president on Tuesday.

HSBC reports 62-per-cent fall in annual profit, blames one-off costs

Banking giant HSBC on Tuesday reported a 62-per-cent fall in its annual profit last year, blaming losses incurred from the sale of HSBC Bank Brazil and other one-off costs.

Le Pen quits meeting with Lebanon's Sunni cleric over headscarf row

France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen walked away from a meeting on Tuesday with Lebanon's senior Muslim Sunni cleric after she refused to wear a headscarf.

Podravka revenues up 15 pct, profit up 54 pct

The Podravka Group that operates in two main business segments: food and pharmaceuticals, generated a net profit in 2016 of HRK 182.4 million, which is 54.7% more than in 2015 without taking into account the one-off effect of consolidating the Zito company or deferred tax returns of Belupo in 2015, according to the company'y unaudited financial statements released on Tuesday.

Chinese prefecture requires all cars to install tracking devices

A prefecture in China’s troubled north-western province of Xinjiang is requiring all vehicles to install satellite tracking devices, a move that comes just weeks after authorities warned against cars being used for terrorist attacks.

Rohingya activist urges companies to stop investing in Myanmar

Foreign companies need to stop investing in Myanmar in order to stop the country's discrimination against its Muslim minority Rohingya, a prominent Myanmar activist said Tuesday.

ASEAN concerned about militarization in disputed South China Sea

South-East Asian countries are concerned about growing militarization in the disputed South China Sea and stressed the need for dialogue to ease tensions, the Philippines’ foreign minister said Tuesday.