"He has been executed at 10.01 pm (9.31 pm IST)," an official told reporters outside Dhaka Central Jail. Inspector General (Prison) Mainuddin Khandker said: "You already know the news, but the jail code does not permit us to tell you anything more,” he said.

Mollah's body was kept hanging for 20 minutes before it was brought down, Dhaka's Deputy Commissioner Sheikh Yususf Mreedha said.

65-year-old Mollah was notorious as the "Butcher of Mirpur" for atrocities like rape and the killing of women and children perpetrated in a suburb of Dhaka during the war of independence from Pakistan.

While hundreds of youngsters and 1971 veterans welcomed the hanging chanting Liberation War time slogan "Joy Bangla", violence gripped parts of the country as Jamaat activists called a nationwide strike on Sunday.

Tight security was put in place around the prison complex as the execution was carried out shortly after Mollah's family saw him for the last time. Earlier reports had suggested the execution would take place after midnight.

Jail sources said 60-year-old prisoner Shahjahan Mian carried out the execution as the chief hangman, with assistance from five other prisoners serving long sentences. TV channels showed an ambulance entering the jail after its huge iron gates were opened, presumably to carry Mollah's body to his village in western Faridpur.

Dhaka's district magistrate, civil surgeon and prison officials witnessed the execution in line with rules while an Islamic cleric administered a special prayer when Mollah sought God's mercy while taking his last bath. Paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and riot police formed a three-tier security blanket as the Jamaat had earlier warned of dire consequence if its assistant secretary general was executed.

Witnesses said Mollah's two sons, four daughters and wife were his last visitors at around 6:25 pm. Mollah, the fourth-highest Jamaat leader, was the first war crimes convict to be sent to the gallows since Bangladesh's independence in 1971.

The apex court earlier on Thursday rejected Mollah's petition for a review of his death sentence, removing the last barrier for his hanging two days after his execution was dramatically put on hold in a last-minute reprieve. Jail officials earlier in the day said Mollah refused to seek presidential clemency under a constitutional provision despite being approached thrice.

Mollah sided with Pakistani troops during the war and gained notoriety for leading the infamous Al-Badr militia in the Dhaka suburb of Mirpur, where he had a role in slaughtering a large number of people, including women and children.

(Agencies)

Latest News from World News Desk