Two Islamic militants sentenced to death for killing an American blogger who criticized religious extremism escaped a crowded court in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sunday.
Avijit Roy, an engineer of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by knife-wielding assailants in February 2015 as he returned 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 Islamic militant groups were sentenced to death last year, while one was sentenced to life.
Two of those on death row escaped on Sunday after motorcyclists sprayed chemicals at officers before speeding away, police said.
“A massive manhunt has been launched to arrest them and their aides,” Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters, adding that border security officials had been put on alert to stop the men fleeing the country.
Police have also announced a reward of 2 million taka (about $19,350) for leads to the convicts.
The convicted men belong to the al-Qaeda-inspired militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team, which police say is behind the killings of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a spate of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities, claimed by ISIS or al-Qaeda groups.