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Elected Pak militant freed

Islamabad, Oct. 30 (Reuters): Pakistani authorities released an Islamic militant leader today who was elected to parliament in October’s general election, after a judicial body refused to extend his year-long detention without trial.

Azam Tariq, leader of the banned Sunni militant Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) party, said after his release from a detention centre near Islamabad he was delighted about the unexpected success of Islamic groups in the October 10 poll.

“I am happy that people who were supportive of our policies have made to the assemblies in large numbers,” said Tariq, who was detained without trial for leading protests against President Pervez Musharraf’s support for US-led military action in Afghanistan.

A senior police official said Tariq had to be freed as the courts had refused government efforts to extend his period of preventative detention after October 30. “Thirteen months ago I was detained because of our policies on Afghanistan and on our policy opposing the United States. Today, after 13 months, I am being released,” Tariq said.

Sipah-e-Sahaba, a Sunni organisation blamed for hundreds of sectarian killings of Shias since the 1990s, was banned in January by Musharraf as part of a crackdown on extremist groups. It was the third time in a row Tariq had been elected to parliament.

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