Avijit Roy: Killer of US blogger fled Bangladesh court on motorcycles

Two Islamist militants who were sentenced to death for killing a US blogger critical of religious extremism fled a crowded court in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sunday.

Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi engineer, was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in February 2015 while he was returning home with his wife from a book fair in Dhaka. His wife, blogger Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a thumb in the attack.

Five members of an Islamist militant group were sentenced to death last year, while one was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Two of the death row inmates escaped Sunday after bikers sprayed police officers with a chemical before kidnapping the convicts, police said.

“A massive manhunt has been launched to capture them and their aides,” Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters, adding that border guards had been put on alert to stop the men fleeing the country.

Police have also announced a reward of 2 million taka (about US$19,350) for prosecuting those convicted.

The convicted men belong to the al Qaeda-inspired domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team, and police say the group was behind the killings of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a series of deadly attacks on bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities between 2013 and 2016, alleged by ISIS or al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

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