LAHORE: Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) claimed on Thursday to have arrested 10 suspects in a joint combing operation in various parts of the city.
The operation was launched after a suicide blast on a census team on Bedian Road in which seven people, including four soldiers, were killed and 18 others injured.
The army personnel were busy unloading the material of population census from a van near Manawala Stop when a suicide attacker blew himself up. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.
The police, the Rangers and other security agencies conducted the combing operation and arrested 10 suspects and also recovered weapons from half of them. The LEAs claimed that weapons were recovered from five suspects while the rest of them were arrested after they failed to produce their identification documents.
A senior investigator said they were working on different leads to arrest the facilitators of the suicide attacker. He said the attacker and his handler were on a motorcycle and continued chasing the vehicle carrying army personnel.
DIG says 4,000 policemen to boost census security
He said initial investigation revealed that 10kg explosive was used to carry out the attack, adding that they recovered body parts of the suicide attacker which were sent to a forensic lab for DNA test to know his identity. DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf said all sections of the National Action Plan were being implemented. Security at all entry and exit points and important places of the city had been heightened, he said.
He said the Dolphin Force and the Police Response Unit officials were directed to enhance patrolling. He also requested the public to keep an eye on any suspicious element and inform the police about them.
The DIG said more than 2,000 suspects had been checked in post-blast search operations.
Punjab police spokesman Nayyab Haider said police carried out search operations in all six divisions of the city and checked credentials of citizens. He said many suspects who failed to prove their identity were taken into custody for interrogation, adding that most of those arrested were Afghan nationals and tenants found violating Tenancy Act.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has ordered the city police to depute more than 4,000 policemen to escort the census teams, in addition to the army personnel.
“We got a demand to depute heavy police contingent in the wake of Wednesday’s blast. Accordingly, 4,000 armed personnel of the Lahore police would take their positions from today (Friday),” claimed the DIG.
Another senior police officer, while speaking to Dawn, shared the obstacles the officials had been facing. He said there were intelligence reports that a handler and a facilitator had led the suicide bomber to the prime target on Bedian Road. However, he said, the investigation officials during a visit to the blast site on Thursday were shocked to learn that not a single CCTV camera was installed on the road and its adjoining arteries. He said since the blast site was considered a sensitive locality of Cantonment, it’s mind-boggling to find out the missing facility.
In fact, the CCTV technology had helped LEAs trace the perpetrators in most terrorism incidents in the past, he said while citing the recent suicide blast of Feb 13 when police identified the main handler of the suicide bomber through the CCTV cameras installed on various locations of The Mall and adjoining roads.
The process of geofencing to trace suspected calls in the area required at least one week due to a huge traffic of mobile phone calls, he said.
Another issue was that the traders were not immediately available for questioning due to closure of the markets at the time of the blast, he said.
According to information, seven more injured people were discharged from the government hospitals on Thursday. Two victims are fighting for life at the Lahore General Hospital due to multiple injuries.