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LAHORE: The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of police claimed on Friday to have arrested two people suspected to be involved in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park suicide attack in 2016.

At least 74 people were killed and 340 others injured when a suicide bomber exploded himself near the swings in the crowded park on March 27 last. Many among the visitors had come to the place to celebrate Easter.

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Jamatul Ahrar Group spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The government sprang into action and constituted a five-member team comprising officials of the police, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to probe the attack. The CTD Lahore had registered a case against the unidentified perpetrators.

The CTD spokesman claimed that the terrorists were arrested through electronic intelligence as their calls were intercepted by the agencies after investigation spanning nine months. He said they were directly involved in carrying out the attack in the park and their eight accomplices were yet to be arrested.

Those arrested had been identified as Shahidullah and Khanzaib who were living in Barkat Town of Shahdara. Both the suspects belong to Fata’s Mohmand Agency and were once close aides of Jamatul Ahrar Lahore Emir Muhammad Khan, said the CTD spokesman. The arrested men, he said, confessed to their crime.

Meanwhile, the investigation report of the Gulshan-i-Iqbal terrorist attack revealed that the attack was carried out on the direction of Jamatul Ahrar Emir Abdul Wali alias Umar Khalid Khurasani. Jamatul Ahrar’s Lahore Emir Muhammad Khan had planned the attack and Shoukat and Tawakal Jaan provided suicide jackets, says the report.

The investigation report further reveals that Umar Khurasani had sent suicide attacker Nasir from Afghanistan to Lahore for carrying out the attack. A suspect identified as Ibrahim transported the suicide attacker from Afghanistan to Lahore, where Muzamil, Abdul Hannan and Hukam Khan received him. Hukam Khan then took the suicide attacker to his house in Iqbal Town, where he stayed for two to three days.

The investigation says Shahidullah and Khanzaib carried out recce of the park for three days and they were also present outside the park at the time of the attack. It further states that Hukam Khan, Muzamil and Abdul Hanan took the suicide attacker to the park in veil.

“The suicide attacker did not enter the park from the main gate but went to the side where the wall was broken. The suicide attacker was directed to approach the crowded place of the park and it was there he exploded himself near the swings,” according to the report.

CTD Additional Inspector General of Police Rai Tahir told Dawn that police teams were working to arrest the absconding suspects. He said according to reports some of the suspects had fled to Afghanistan and others are still in or around Lahore and would be arrested soon.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2017