Pakistan holds ex-terror chief over bombing

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THE former head of a banned Sunni Muslim extremist group was arrested in Pakistan yesterday after the group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in which 89 Shiites were killed.

Malik Ishaq was detained in the central city of Rahim Yar Khan, authorities said. Police added that he was being held in a high-security jail on unspecified charges.

Ishaq and the group he helped found in 1996, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, have previously been the subject of police investigations. He was detained for 14 years from 1997 after claiming to have killed up to 100 Shiites but was released in July 2011 when the claims could not be proved.

While in prison, Ishaq was accused of plotting terrorist attacks, including the 3 March, 2009 assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or LeJ – designated a terrorist group by both Pakistan and the United States – claimed responsibility for the bombing of a market in the south-western city of Quetta last Saturday which killed 89 people.Most of those killed were Hazaras, a Shiite ethnic group that migrated to Pakistan from Afghanistan more than a century ago.

Shiites account for one in five of the Pakistan population of 177 million.