Manhunt as killers on death row for murder escape crowded court
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Featured Image Credit: Syed Mahamudur Rahman/ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photos
A manhunt is underway for two murderers who managed to escape from a crowded court after being given the death penalty.
Six members of an Islamist militant group were arrested for the 2015 killing of Avijit Roy, an atheist blogger who had been critical of religious extremism.
The US-Bangladeshi writer had been walking back from a book fair with his wife in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, when the assailants attacked the pair with machetes.
Roy was tragically hacked to death in the assault, while his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, suffered head injuries and lost a thumb.
The killing was slammed across the globe including by US officials, with many describing it as an attack on the country's free speech.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at the time: "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal murder of Avijit Roy.
"He was taken from us in a shocking act of violence.
"This was not just an attack against a person, but a cowardly assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladesh's constitution, and the country's proud tradition of free intellectual and religious discourse."
In 2019, Bangladesh authorities announced six suspects were to be charged over the 2015 killing.
Five of the men were sentenced to death last year, while another was given life in prison.
However, two of those on death row managed to escape from a crowded court in Dhaka on Sunday (November 20).
Police said they made their getaway after bikers sprayed chemicals on officers and took the captives away.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters: "A massive manhunt has been launched to capture them and their helpers."
He went on to confirm that border security authorities had been alerted to prevent the killers from escaping the country.
Police are now offering a 2 million Taka ($19,300) reward to anyone who can provide information that will lead to their capture.
Public prosecutor Golam Sarwar Khan previously revealed that the six men arrested and charged for the attack belonged to the al Qaeda-inspired militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team.
The Bangladesh-based terrorist organisation has been linked to a number of brutal attacks and murders against atheist bloggers from 2013 to 2015.
Following the sentencing of those involved in Roy's death, Khan said: "Charges against them were proved beyond any doubt.
"The court gave them the highest punishment."
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