Two Islamist militants sentenced to death for the murder of a US blogger who criticized religious extremism escaped from a crowded Dhaka, Bangladesh court on Sunday.
Avijit Roy, an engineer of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in February 2015 while returning home with his wife from a book fair in Dhaka. His wife, blogger Rufaida Bunia Ahmed, sustained head injuries and lost her thumb in the attack.
Five members of a radical Islamist group were sentenced to death last year, while one was sentenced to life in prison.
Police said two death row convicts escaped on Sunday after bikers sprayed a chemical on police officers before kidnapping the convicts.
“A massive manhunt has been launched to capture them and their accomplices,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters, adding that border security officials were put on alert to prevent the men from fleeing the country.
The police also announced that they will be given 2 million taka (about $19,350 USD) to track down the convicts.
The convicted men belonged to the local al-Qaeda-inspired Bengali militant group Ansarullah, which police say was behind the killings of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh experienced a series of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists, and religious minorities, which were claimed by ISIS or groups allied with al-Qaeda.