LAHORE: Officials arrested 42 suspected militants with alleged links to the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

"The arrests were the result of raids in four Punjab cities over the weekend," said Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah.

The minister said those arrested had been tasked with setting up sleeper cells for IS, and that those arrested include the purported IS Islamabad chief Amir Mansoor, his deputy Abdullah Mansoori and the group's chief for Sindh province, Umer Kathio.

The minister said the raids also yielded IS literature and weapons.

Sanaullah said the operation against alleged IS militants was launched after a raid last week in Daska district, when 13 other IS suspects were arrested.

The minister's statements come nearly a week after the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) claimed busting an IS terror cell in Sialkot. The CTD said it arrested eight suspects and seized weapons, explosives and laptops, as well as a large number of compact discs containing publicity material, during the raid. An 'IS recruiter' was also arrested in Karachi earlier this week.

In December 2015, four well-educated men held on terrorism charges were arrested in Karachi for their involvement in the Safoora attacks, while their wives and their accomplices were accused of brainwashing educated and rich women through sermons and videos about the militant Islamic State (IS) group and other terrorist outfits.

An investigation report into the Safoora attackers in August alleged that the suspects were affiliated with Al Qaeda and IS.

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