Police in Dhaka have confirmed that the two militants who managed to flee from custody were assisted by some yet-to-be-identified men as they assaulted the policemen escorting the prisoners and used a getaway motorcycle.
The prisoners, identified as Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Samir and Abu Siddique Sohel aliases Sakib, Sajid and Sahab, managed to give law enforcers the slip while they were being escorted to a court in Dhaka to testify in a case on Sunday.
Both Moinul and Abu Siddique, members of the outlawed militant organisation Ansar Al Islam, received death penalties for their involvement in the killings of Jagriti Prokashoni publisher Faysal Arefin Dipon and writer Avijit Roy.
A massive manhunt is under way as the authorities have issued a red alert and announced a Tk 2 million reward for information leading to the capture of the death-row convicts. Supreme Court instructed law-enforcing agencies to beef up securities on the court premises up and down the country following the incident.
An official with the police’s Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime Unit or CTTC, who had requested anonymity as he was not authorised to reveal any information to the press, told http://bdnews24.com that they found some video footage from a camera placed at the far end of Old Dhaka’s Raghunath Lane, which clearly shows Moinul and Abu Siddique rode with an unidentified motorcyclist and sped away.
The footage also revealed that some other unidentified men took position near the motorcycle before it left the scene.
The official said two other militants, identified as Arafat Rahman and Sabur, in police custody attempted to flee as well, but they were apprehended before getting on another motorcycle, registered under one Hasan Al Mamun, from Dhaka’s Faidabad, at Raghunath Lane.
The incident took place when the escapees and 10 others were being escorted to the lockup in the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrates' Court premises after they had testified in a case before a special anti-terrorism tribunal, housed inside the premises of Dhaka Chief Judicial Magistrate Court.
“It’s like 50 paces from the main gate of judicial magistrates' court premises to metropolitan magistrates' court premises on the Johnson Road [in Old Dhaka], when the unidentified people launched the attack, beat them up severely, sprayed some yet-to-be-identified chemicals on the policemen’s eyes, and snatched them away,” said the CTTC official.
He also said the placement of the getaway motorcycles, the sudden attack and the swift way everything went down indicate that it was a well-organised operation and the men behind snatching the death-row convicts had carried out reconnaissance of the area earlier.
Multiple witnesses at the scene confirmed the accounts of the police officer and said they saw the incident, but the commotion went down so quickly that the perpetrators had fled the scene before they had a chance to react.
The police official confirmed after assessing some other CCTV footage that the fugitives on the motorcycle may have used the Dholaikhal road to escape.
The CTTC chief Asaduzzaman, while briefing journalists, said police are making every effort to catch the fugitives and he asked everyone to cooperate with the manhunt.