Two militants sentenced to death for killing prominent BangladeshiAmerican Secular blogger Avijit Roy and his publisher made a dramatic escape from the crowded campus courtOn Sunday with the help of unknown bikers who sprayed some chemical on the police and created a smoke screen before the culprits were chased away.
Hours after the incident, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that a nationwide alert had been issued to apprehend him again and that an investigation had been launched to find out how the incident happened.
“We have launched a massive operation to recapture him and his assistants,” a police spokesman told reporters at the scene.
He said Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Sameer alias Imran and Abu Siddiq Sohail – both members of the banned terrorist group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) – were brought to the court for an indictment hearing in a separate case, when some Unidentified motorcycle-borne men picked him up while he was being taken to the transitional prison.
Police said two ABT operatives were sentenced to death last year for the murder of 42-year-old Bangladesh-born American secular blogger Roy and his publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan.
According to the police and eyewitnesses, the convicts fled the court premises on motorbikes as their accomplices sprinkled some chemical on the policemen accompanying them and created a smoke screen.
Eyewitnesses said that the spray only temporarily blinded two policemen, suggesting that convicts in high-profile murder cases were being treated just like any other ordinary prisoners.
A court official said the prisoners were only handcuffed, not leg shackles, a common protective measure for dangerous criminals or militants.
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CCTV footage broadcast by TV channels showed two bike-borne terrorists carrying helmets through a narrow road in front of the Dhaka Metropolitan Judge’s Court complex, while a man in plainclothes chased them.
Roy, an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism, was stabbed to death by ABT militants on February 26, 2015, just after leaving a book fair at Dhaka University. His wife Rafida Ahmed was also injured in the attack. The terrorist group also killed their publisher Deepan at his office in Dhaka’s Shahbagh area in November the same year.
Dhaka’s Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal court sentenced five terrorists to death in the Roy murder case, while eight Islamists were sentenced to death for Deepan’s murder.
Bangladesh saw an alarming increase in extremist activity in 2015 when four “atheist” bloggers were murdered, with the authorities attributing these attacks to domestic terrorists, while Islamic State claimed responsibility for three attacks at the time.
The worst of the militant attacks was a 2016 cafe attack 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 South Asian country with a Muslim majority population to declare a de facto total war against the Islamists involving the army, paramilitary and specialized police units, which carried out nationwide raids on terrorist hideouts and killed dozens of extremists. Death has happened.
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