Lahore: Over 5,000 people have been rounded up by security forces since the Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore, with more than 200 still in custody, Pakistan's Punjab government said on Tuesday, even as Taliban militants behind the attack taunted the Prime Minister, saying the "war has reached his doorstep".
"In the past 24 hours, Punjab police had conducted 56 operations, the Counter Terrorism Department 16 and intelligence agencies in collaboration with the local police carried out 88 raids in different parts of the province and rounded up a total 5,221 people," Punjab Province Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told a press conference.
Of those detained, 5,005 have been released after "data verification" while "over 200 suspects are in custody of the law enforcement agencies," he said.
Talking about investigations into the Lahore attack, Sanaullah said a Joint Investigation Team headed by the SSP of Counter Terrorism Department has been formed to probe the incident.
The Pakistan Army had said on Monday that it had launched a crackdown in Punjab on terrorists suspected to be involved in the Lahore attack at the Gulshan-i-Iqbal park that claimed 74 lives, mostly women and children, and injured over 300 others. The raids have been carried out on the basis of technical evidence and initial information gathered by intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the bombing.
Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif has ordered the raids on hideouts of terrorists in the province. Intelligence agencies led operations, mostly in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Muzzafargarh and some other districts of south Punjab, on seminaries and other targets linked to extremist and terror groups.
"Personnel of army and Rangers carried out the operations. A number of arrests were said to have been made in addition to recovery of arms and explosives," military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said. "Several arrests made; operation to be spread across
province. Operations will continue with more leads coming in."
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban faction — Jamaatul Ahrar — behind the bombing warned that the terror attack was a message to the government about their arrival in Punjab, as the death toll rose to 74, after two more persons succumbed to their injuries.
The group's spokesman even taunted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Twitter. "After the Lahore attack, Nawaz Sharif repeated old to give himself false assurances," he wrote. "Nawaz Sharif should know that war has reached his doorstep, and God willing the mujahideen will be the winners in this war," the spokesman said.