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UK terror plotter escapes custody in Pak

December 16, 2007 15:44 IST

Terror suspect Rashid Rauf, arrested by Pakistani authorities in connection with a plot to bomb airliners in Britain last year, escaped from police custody shortly after being produced in a court on Saturday.

Rauf, whose extradition had been sought by the British government, overpowered two police constables who had escorted him to the court in the federal capital.

He was earlier brought to Islamabad from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. Authorities have launched a hunt to trace him and the two policemen were being questioned about Rauf's escape, Dawn News channel reported.

Pakistani authorities recently dropped all terror charges against Rauf but he was accused of possessing forged travel and identity documents and explosives. He was arrested in Bhawalpur in August 2006, a day before British authorities apprehended several persons in connection with the terrorist plot.

Several questions were raised about the circumstances in which he escaped. Though he is considered a terror suspect, he was being guarded by only two policemen.

It was also considered unusual that he was produced in the court in the evening. Rauf is married to a relative of Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Tayib Rauf was arrested in Britain in connection with the plot to bomb airliners.

Rauf is also believed to have links to Al Qaeda and left Britain in 2002 shortly after his uncle was murdered.

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