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Police helped militant: Probe

Islamabad, Dec. 20 (AP): A high-level probe into the escape of a British suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners has concluded that his police guards helped him get away, a newspaper reported today.

A report on the investigation into Rashid Rauf’s escape last Saturday was expected to be submitted to the government today.

The Dawn newspaper said the report called it a case of “criminal collusion”. The escape has been an embarrassment for President Pervez Musharraf’s government.

Rauf was arrested in Pakistan in August 2006 before the alleged plane bombing plot was foiled. Britain has sought his extradition in connection with the death of his uncle there, and he appeared on Saturday before a judge in Islamabad.

Police officials claim that on Rauf’s way back to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, he was allowed to go to a mosque for prayers but slipped out of the back door.

The Dawn reported that a committee set up to probe Rauf’s escape concluded that the guards’ account of the escape was “totally concocted” and that they colluded in helping him flee.

Benazir pressure

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto said today the government had ordered security forces to close her offices, while intelligence agents were pressuring candidates to drop out of a January election.

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