The Punjab government during a provincial apex committee meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday decided to seek support from the Rangers to combat terrorism in Punjab days after a suicide attack in Lahore killed at least 15 people and wounded 85 others.

The details regarding the nature and extent of support to be provided by the Rangers will be finalised later, according to a statement released by the Punjab government.

The suicide attack on Lahore's Mall Road claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar hit a protest of chemists and pharmaceuticals manufacturers which was attended by up to 400 people last Monday. At least six police officials were killed in the blast.

Following the attack, Punjab’s law enforcement agencies had launched a province-wide crackdown on banned militant organisations.

Meeting participants today decided that indiscriminate action must be taken against banned outfits, and that all small and large agents with links to banned outfits must be arrested. The provincial apex committee agreed that all sources of financial assistance to banned organisations must be shut down.

The apex committee agreed to widen the scope of intelligence-based operations in the province and resolved to punish facilitators of terrorists, the statement said, adding that there will be strict surveillance of Punjab's border districts.

Steps taken under the National Action Plan to counter terrorism, militancy, extremism and sectarianism are to be reviewed, the statement today said.

Foolproof security arrangements have been ordered for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and international visitors.

National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua, Corps Commander Lahore Lt Gen Sadiq Ali, Provincial Anti-terrorism Minister Col (r) Muhammad Ayub, Director General Punjab Rangers Maj Gen Azhar Naveed Hayat, Inspector General Police Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera and other high-level civil and military officials attended the apex committee meeting.

On Friday evening, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif claimed the provincial government had arrested a facilitator and eliminated the terrorist network involved in the suicide attack. Sharif had said the army and Rangers could be called in on a need-basis.

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