Monsters and Critics : Pakistani police continue manhunt for escaped terrorist suspect

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pakistani police continue manhunt for escaped terrorist suspect

December 16, 2007

Islamabad - Pakistani police launched a manhunt Sunday for an escaped British terrorist suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic commercial jetliners, an official said.

Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, escaped from police guards on Saturday afternoon after appearing before a judge in Islamabad for an extradition request hearing relating to a separate murder investigation in Britain.

'We have circulated his photograph to all law enforcement agencies, we have blocked all escape routes,' said Haved Iqbal Cheema, an Interior Ministry spokesman. 'We are making all efforts to arrest him and should be able to nab him again.'

He said a committee had been formed to investigate how Rauf managed to slip away from two police escorts at the Islamabad District Court. Local television and newspaper reports said the suspect slipped out of his handcuffs and overpowered the escorts, who have been suspended and were under investigation.

'There's an investigation going on find out exactly what happened,' Cheema said.

Rauf was originally arrested in Pakistan in August 2006 on a tip from the British government, suspected in a plot to blow up jetliners flying from Britain to the US, which prompted authorities to cancel flights and issue security alerts.

Rauf was originally charged with possessing chemicals that could be used to make explosives, but prosecutors later withdrew that case and only held him for possessing bomb-making materials. His case is still pending and he was to have remained in custody until January 19.

Separately, Rauf is fighting extradition to Britain in connection with a murder there in 2002.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur