2 death row inmates in Bangladeshi-American blogger murder case flee courthouse – Times of India

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DHAKA: Two Islamist militants, sentenced to death for killing prominent Bangladeshi-American secular blogger Avijit Roy and his publisher, dramatically escaped from the premises of a crowded court here on Sunday with the help of unidentified motorcyclists who sprayed some chemicals on the police and the judiciary. created a smoke screen before the convicts were taken away.
Hours after the incident, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that a nationwide alert has been issued to recapture them and an investigation has been launched to find out how the event happened.
The government has issued a red alert at all entry and exit points of the country and has asked law enforcement agencies to strengthen their surveillance in the border areas so that the convicts cannot leave Bangladesh, he said.
Kamal said the government had issued a directive asking the police not to bring death row inmates to court in person and will investigate why the order was not followed in this case.
“We have launched a massive manhunt to recapture them and their helpers,” a police spokesman told reporters at the scene.
The Bangladesh Police also announced a reward of Taka 20 lakh (approximately $19,428) for tips leading to the recapture of the convicts.
Police and court officials said Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Samir alias Imran and Abu Siddiq Sohel – who were among four operatives from the banned terrorist group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) who were escorted to the transitional prison chamber after a hearing in another case – escaped to the courthouse with the help of some unidentified men on motorcycles.
Police said Shamim and Sohel were sentenced to death last year for the murder of 42-year-old Bangladeshi-born American secular blogger Roy and his publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan, who was also in his early 40s.
According to police and eyewitnesses, the convicts fled the courthouse on motorcycles when their accomplices sprayed some chemicals on police officers escorting them, creating a smoke screen.
The eyewitnesses said the spray temporarily blinded only two police officers, suggesting those convicted in the high-profile murder cases were treated like other ordinary prisoners.
“The prisoners were handcuffed only, their legs were not handcuffed, a common protection measure for dangerous criminals or militants,” a court official said.
CCTV footage broadcast by TV channels showed two motorcyclists wearing helmets carrying the two militants through a narrow road in front of the Dhaka Metropolitan Judges Court complex, while a civilian pursued them.
Roy, an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism, was hacked to death with machetes by ABT militants on February 26, 2015, just after he left a book fair at Dhaka University. His wife Rafida Ahmed was also injured in the attack. The terror group also hacked to death its publisher Dipan in his office in Dhaka’s Shahbagh district in November of the same year.
The court of the Special Anti-Terrorism Tribunal in Dhaka sentenced five militants to death in the Roy murder case, while eight Islamists were sentenced to death for Dipan’s murder.
Bangladesh witnessed an alarming increase in militant activity in 2015 when four “atheist” bloggers were killed and authorities attributed the attacks to homegrown terrorists, while the Islamic State had claimed responsibility for three attacks at the time.
A 2016 cafe attack was the worst of the militant attacks when 22 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed, sparking a global uproar as a court subsequently sentenced seven of the eight accused to death.
But it prompted the Muslim-majority South Asian country to virtually declare an all-out war against Islamists who brought in army, paramilitary and elite police units that saw a series of nationwide raids on militant hideouts and the deaths of dozens of extremists.





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