Agence France-Presse

Pakistan: Malik Ishaq, founder of Lashkar e Jhangvi, arrested

Personnel of the Rapid Response Group (RRG) of the Balouchistan Constabulary stand guard during the protest of Jamaat Ahle Sunnat against the Pakistani forces operation in Quetta on February 22, 2013, after the bomb attacks on Shiite Muslims . Attacks targeting Shiites in Pakistan have claimed almost 200 lives already this year.

Pakistani authorities arrested the founder of a Sunni extremist group on Friday, in the wake of the bombings in Quetta last week which killed 89 Shiites.

Malik Ishaq, founder of the group Lashkar e Jhangvi (LeJ), surrendered himself to authorities, the police said, according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn. Senior police officer Ashfaq Gujar said Ishaq was taken into custody and sent to a high-security prison for investigation.

"Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has accepted responsibility for the recent Quetta blast and Ishaq is its supreme commander. That’s why we have arrested him and 24 other LeJ militants," said Zafar Chatta, the district's police officer.

Nearly 200 Shiites have been killed in targeted attacks launched by the Sunni militant group LeJ. The LeJ wants to expel Shiites, who make up about a fifth of the population of Pakistan's Punjab province of 180 million, according to Reuters.

Ishaq spent 14 years in prison after being charged with 34 counts of culpable homicide and terrorism and was released in July 2011. Officials said he was released because charges couldn't be proven, most likely due to witness intimidation.

Ishaq said Shiites were the "greatest infidels on earth," in an interview with Reuters last year.

Pakistani news site The Express Tribune noted that earlier this week another LeJ leader, Ghulam Rasool, was detained.

Shiites, especially those of the ethnic Hazara community, held protests in the wake of the deadly bombings earlier this month, refusing the bury their dead until action was taken.

More on GlobalPost: The plight of Shiites in Pakistan (VIDEO)

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