A manhunt is underway after two men, sentenced to death for killing a hardline religiosity blogger, escaped from a crowded court in Dhaka.

Two men sentenced to death for killing a blogger critical of hardline religion have escaped from a crowded court in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Avijit Roy, an American citizen of Bangladeshi descent, was hacked to death by machete-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 a head injury and lost a thumb in the attack.

Five members of an armed Muslim group were sentenced to death last year, while one of them was serving a life sentence.

Two of the death row inmates escaped on Sunday after motorcyclists sprayed chemicals on police and took the convicts away, police said.

“A massive manhunt has been launched to capture them and their helpers,” Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters.

The minister said border guards were on alert to prevent the men from fleeing the country.

The police also announced a two million taka (approximately $19,350) award for tracing the convicts.

The convicted men belong to the al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Ullah Bangla Team. Police say the group was behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a series of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities claimed by ISIL (ISIS) or groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.

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