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Lashkar chief Riaz Basra ‘arrested’

January 22, 2002

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FAISALABAD, Jan 21: A local police team on Monday claimed to have arrested Riaz Basra, involved in series of sectarian killings, and took him to an unknown place for interrogation.

Basra, the chief guard of Sipah-i-Sahaba founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, established a militant group in the name of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi after the assassination of Nawaz.

The Lahore police arrested Basra after his conviction by a court on the charge of murdering Iranian counsel Aqai Sadiq Ganji. He was produced before a court in Lahore during trial of the murder case of Tehrik-i-Jaferia leader Syed Sikandar Shah. However, he managed to escape from the custody of police in May, 1994.

After escape, he reportedly strengthened the Lashkar and enrolled many hardliners in the group. Hundreds of rival sect leaders and activists were allegedly gunned down by the group from 1996 to 1998 under his command.

Basra had reportedly killed the Sargodha division commissioner, Syed Tajammul Abbas, in August 1996.

Fake stories of his arrest appeared more than once in the press and on one occasion he was claimed to have been killed along with one of his accomplices by the Sargodha police in April, 1999, during an encounter. However, Basra corresponded with government officials and claimed his involvement in terrorist activities.

Law enforcing agencies claimed Basra settled in Afghanistan after the takeover by the army in 1999 and the organization curtailed its activities. However, he returned to Pakistan after the US attack in October, they claimed.

PRAYER LEADER HELD: The Sargodha Road police arrested a prayer leader on the charge of violating ban on loudspeaker on Monday.

Maulana Intisar Ali, who belongs to the Minhajul Quran Society of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik, was alleged to have delivered a speech against the government.