Two of the men who murdered a popular Bangladeshi American blogger are on the lam after a police ambush in broad daylight. The fugitives, already convicted in the 2015 murder of Avijit Roy, were being taken to court for a hearing on Sunday when multiple motorcycles disrupted their police escort outside a courthouse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, reports the Guardian. The assailants sprayed something in the faces of officers, then whisked the convicts away.
The fugitives are identified as Moinul Hasan Shamim and Abu Siddiq Sohel, and they belong to an extremist group called Ansarullah Bangla Team, which translates to "Helpers of Allah" in Bengali, per the New York Times. Members of the group hacked Roy to death on the streets of Dhaka and severely injured his wife. Before his death, Roy had written frequently about the dangers of religious extremism, notes Reuters. Later that year, his publisher, Faisal Arefin Dipan, also was murdered.
"The violence sent a chilling message to secular writers and publishers in Bangladesh, where a bitter cultural battle has raged over whether the country is, or should be, a Muslim state," per the Times. The two escapees were among five men who were put on death row for Roy's murder. Bangladesh's home minister says an investigation is underway into how the escape happened. One aspect of that: The fugitives were handcuffed, but their legs weren't shackled, as is usually the case. (More Bangladesh stories.)