Govt de­tains more than 5,000 over La­hore blast

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL - Staff Re­porter

Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties have de­tained more than 5,000 sus­pects in the two days since a sui­cide bomber killed more than 70 peo­ple in a park in the city of La­hore. Au­thor­i­ties have car­ried out at least 160 raids.

The Pak­istani gov­ern­ment has promised to crack down on mil­i­tants and their back­ers af­ter a sui­cide bomber tar­geted Chris­tians cel­e­brat­ing Easter in La­hore on the week­end.

A Tal­iban splin­ter group, Ja­maat-ul-Ahrar, which also sup­ports the self-pro­claimed Is­lamic State, has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack. Army spokesman General Asim Saleem Ba­jwa says, while the at­tack hap­pened in Pun­jab prov­ince, the mil­i­tary will launch raids on sus­pected mil­i­tant hide­outs through­out the coun­try.

"Sleeper cells of ter­ror­ists ex­ist in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try, and such op­er­a­tions against mil­i­tants, their fi­nanciers and abet­ters will be car­ried out across Pak­istan, ir­re­spec­tive of which part of the coun­try it is."

Police, counter-ter­ror­ism and in­tel­li­gence agents have car­ried out at least 160 raids.

A state min­is­ter for Pun­jab prov­ince, Rana Sanaullah, says more than 5,000 sus­pects have been ar­rested over the past two days, al­though most have since been re­leased.

"Dur­ing these raids, 5,221 sus­pects were rounded up. 5,005 of them were re­leased af­ter ver­ifi- cation of their par­tic­u­lars. 216 sus­pects are in cus­tody, pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Af­ter fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we will know more about them. If some­one is in­no­cent, they are in­no­cent. If some­one is found to be guilty, they will be charged."

The raids come as Ja­maat-ulAhrar is­sues a new threat, warn­ing Pak­istan's me­dia they could be the next tar­get.

A spokesman for the group has tweeted, "Ev­ery­one will get their turn in this war, es­pe­cially the slave Pak­istani me­dia. We are just wait­ing for the ap­pro­pri­ate time."

In a joint press con­fer­ence with Pak­istan's rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions, United States Con­gress­woman Carolyn Maloney has de­nounced the at­tack.

She has told Pak­ista­nis that peo­ple must come to­gether to pre­vent the fur­ther spread of ter­ror­ism across the globe.

"We want you to know that you are in our thoughts and in our prayers, that Pak­istan, a strate­gic ally, is in our thoughts and in our prayers. And, to­gether, we will not be cowed, we will not be turned aside from our goal of a freer and a safer world. We will per­se­vere, we will carry on, and we will pre­vail."

The Pak­istan rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, says she is con­fi­dent the per­pe­tra­tors will be caught.

"My coun­try is in mourn­ing, but we are united in this grief that we all share. But we are also united in our de­ter­mi­na­tion to pre­vail over the dark forces of ter­ror­ism. They will never de­feat us."

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