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Pakistani Officials Hunt for Escaped Terror Suspect

  • VOA News

Pakistani authorities are hunting for a British man suspected of plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners, after he escaped from police custody in Islamabad.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema on Sunday said police are doing their best to find and re-arrest Rashid Rauf.

Government officials have also formed a high-level team to investigate how the terror suspect was able to flee. The team has been told to report its findings within three days.

Rauf escaped Saturday after appearing before a judge for an extradition hearing in Islamabad. Police say he was able to break from his handcuffs and run away. Rauf's lawyer Hasmat Habib called his escape a "mysterious disappearance."

Rauf, a British national of Pakistani descent, was arrested in Pakistan in August 2006. Authorities in the West say he had a key role in a terrorist plot to blow up passenger airliners traveling between Britain and the United States, using liquid explosives.

More than 20 other people suspected of involvement in the bomb plot were detained in Britain shortly after Rauf's arrest. Disclosure of the alleged plot prompted authorities to tighten security procedures at airports worldwide - in particular, restricting the quantity of liquids that air passengers can take with them.

Rauf had been charged in Pakistan with having false identification papers and possessing chemicals that could be used to make explosives.

Pakistani authorities dropped their charges against Rauf last month and began proceedings to extradite him to Britain, where he faces murder charges involving the death of his uncle five years ago.

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