Dhaka: Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected final appeals from two opposition leaders against death sentences for alleged atrocities committed during the 1971 war of independence, rulings that are likely to spark protests by their supporters.

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, 67, secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was found guilty of five charges including torture and the murders of intellectuals and minority Hindus while he commanded Al Badr, during the war to break away from Pakistan.

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, 66, former legislator in  former premier Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was convicted in October 2013 on charges of genocide, religious persecution, abduction and torture during the war.

The rulings mean the two could be hanged at any time unless they seek mercy from the president.

Mujahid, social welfare minister from 2001 to 2006 under Khaleda, would be the first former minister and the third to be hanged while Chowdhury would be the first BNP leader to go to the gallows unless they are granted clemency.

Just a few hours before the rulings, an Italian priest was wounded in the latest attack on foreigners in Bangladesh. Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for earlier attacks on foreigners.

The government, however, rejected Islamic State's claim and blamed the growing violence in Bangladesh on its domestic political opponents linked to Islamist parties.

Two Jamaat leaders have been executed, one in December 2013 and another in April. They declined to seek clemency from the president.

U.S. lawmakers and international human rights groups say the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, set up by the U.S. Congress, has expressed "serious concerns" over the death penalties.