Pakistani security forces killed at least five terrorists and arrested over 600 suspects in large-scale operation in the country’s eastern Punjab province, reports state-controlled Chinese outlet Xinhua.
The operation came after a deadly suicide attack in Punjab’s provincial capital of Lahore.
“At least 74 people including 29 children were killed and over 300 others injured in the blast that hit the crowded Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in downtown Lahore on Sunday evening,” notes Xinhua. “A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, had claimed responsibility for the attack.”
Dunya, a local Urdu TV channel, revealed that the five terrorists who were killed belonged to a banned militant group.
They “were killed in two separate shootouts with security forces during the search operations in Rajanpur district and Muzaffargarh district in southern part of Punjab,” reports Dunya.
Various local media outlets reported that “at least 250 suspects were detained in Sialkot district, 200 in Gujranwala, 80 in Faisalabad, 34 in Rahim Yar Khan, 18 in Kasur, 10 in Bhakkar, six in Attock and one in Bahawalpur, while several others were also arrested from other different districts of the province.”
The Pakistani security forces launched the operation late Sunday night in coordination with police.
Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif ordered the quick operation after meeting with high-level military officials. Gen. Sharif demanded that the terrorists and their supporters be brought to justice.
In a televised address to the nation, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed his government’s commitment “to wipe out the menace of terrorism from the country.” “The provinces should speed up intelligence-based operations against terrorists,” said the Pakistani PM. “Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mind-set.”
A Pakistan army spokesperson said that a large cache of weapons and ammunitions had been seized during the operation.
“Punjab’s law minister Rana Sanaullah told media on Tuesday that it is a ‘national operation’ and at least 160 intelligence based operations have been conducted so far,” reports Xinhua.
A large number of women and children were killed when a suicide bomber struck a public park in Lahore on Sunday.
“Deputy Coordination Officer Lahore, Captain Usman, said that the killed people included 23 kids whereas 56 injured children were shifted to various hospitals of the city,” notes Xinhua.
The Pentagon has accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to Taliban terrorists from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In an October 2015 visit to the White House, PM Sharif conceded that the Taliban was operating from Pakistan soil.