2 militants sentenced to death for killing US blogger escape from Bangladesh court

The convicted men belong to the Al Qaeda-inspired domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA – Two Islamist militants sentenced to death for killing a US blogger critical of religious extremism escaped from a crowded court in Bangladesh’s Dhaka on Sunday.

Mr 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 Dhaka book fair. His wife, blogger Rafida Bonya Ahmed, had head injuries and lost a thumb in the attack.

Five members of an Islamist militant group were sentenced to death in 2021, while one was jailed for life.

Two of those on death row escaped on Sunday, after bikers sprayed a chemical on the police before snatching away the convicts, police said.

“A massive manhunt has been launched to capture them and their helpers,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters, adding that border security officials were put on alert to stop the men from fleeing the country.

The police also announced a reward of two million taka (S$26,500) for locating the convicts.

The men belong to the Al-Qaeda-inspired domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team. Police say the group was behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a string of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities, claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Al-Qaeda-aligned groups. REUTERS

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