QUETTA, Jan 18: Two prominent members of a banned sectarian organisation escaped from a sub-jail located inside the headquarters of the Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF) in cantonment area on Friday.

Usman Saifullah and Shafiqur Rehman were tried by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in several cases of sectarian killings, a senior police officer said. They belonged to the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi sectarian group. The court had sentenced Usman to death for sectarian attacks and Shafiq to life imprisonment in another case, the officer said.

Police said Usman had masterminded numerous sectarian killings and attacks on imambargahs in Quetta and he had been arrested from Karachi in June, 2006. Shafiq was arrested from Mastung last year.

After the escape, police took into custody 13 jail and ATF personnel who had been on duty. Security was beefed up in and around Quetta and all exit and entry points have been sealed.

Law-enforcement personnel raided suspected hideouts of the accused in Quetta, Mastung, Dashat and other areas.

According to police, the accused had been kept in the sub-jail inside the ATF headquarters from where they escaped sometime late during the night. Officials came to know about the escape only when the staff on duty were changed and the new shift counted the prisoners.

“The cell was found properly locked, but the two accused were not in the cell,” a senior police officer told Dawn.

Security around 65 Imambargahs in Quetta has been beefed up and additional personnel of police and law-enforcement personnel have been deployed.