DHAKA: Two Islamist militants, who were sentenced to death for killing prominent secular Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy and his editor, made a dramatic escape from the premises of a crowded court here on Sunday with the help of bikers unidentified men who sprayed chemicals at police and created a smoke screen before leading the convicts away.
Hours after the incident, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that a nationwide alert had been issued to take them back and an investigation had been launched to determine how the event had come about. unfolded.
The government has issued a red alert at all entry and exit points in the country and has asked law enforcement to step up surveillance in border areas so that convicts cannot leave Bangladesh, it said. -he declares.
Kamal said the government has issued a directive asking the police not to present death row inmates in person in court and will be asked why the order was not followed in this case.
“We have launched a massive manhunt to recapture them and their aides,” a police spokesman told reporters at the scene.
Police in Bangladesh also announced a reward of Taka 20 lakh (about $19,428) for denunciations leading to the recapture of convicts.
Police and court officials said Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Samir alias Imran and Abu Siddiq Sohel – who were among the four members of the banned terror group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) escorted to the transitional prison room at following a arraignment hearing in another case – escaped the court premises with the help of unidentified men on motorbikes.
Police said Shamim and Sohel were sentenced to death last year for killing Roy, a 42-year-old Bangladeshi-born American secular blogger, and his editor Faisal Arefin Dipan, who was also in his 40s.
According to police and eyewitnesses, the convicts fled the court premises on motorbikes as their accomplices sprayed the officers escorting them with chemicals and created a smoke screen.
Eyewitnesses said the spray temporarily blinded only two police officers, suggesting those convicted in the high-profile murder cases were treated like any other ordinary prisoner.
“Prisoners were just handcuffed, their legs were not chained, a usual protective measure for dangerous criminals or activists,” a court official said.
CCTV footage released by television stations showed two motorcyclists wearing helmets carrying the two activists down a narrow road outside the Dhaka Metropolitan Court complex, while a man in civilian clothes chased them.
Roy, an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism, was macheted to death by ABT activists just after leaving a book fair at the University of Dhaka on February 26, 2015. His wife Rafida Ahmed also was injured in the attack. The terrorist group also hacked its publisher Dipan to death in November of the same year in its office in the Shahbagh district of Dhaka.
The Dhaka Special Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced five activists to death in the Roy murder case, while eight Islamists were sentenced to death for killing Dipan.
Bangladesh saw an alarming increase in militant activity in 2015 when four “atheist” bloggers were murdered, with authorities blaming the attacks on local terrorists after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for three attacks at the time.
A cafe attack in 2016 was the worst of the militant assaults when 22 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed, sparking a global outcry while a court later sentenced seven of the eight suspects to death.
But it prompted the Muslim-majority South Asian country to virtually declare all-out war on Islamists engaging the army, paramilitary units and elite police which saw a series of nationwide raids on hiding places of militants and the death of dozens of extremists.

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