LAHORE: Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) launched search operations across Lahore and picked up some suspects over their alleged involvement in Thursday’s bomb blast in Anarkali market.
Raids were carried out by joint teams of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of police and other LEAs on the basis of intelligence reports about the movement of the facilitators/handlers of the terrorist attack.
An official privy to the development told Dawn that the law enforcers received a tip-off about the presence of suspects in areas adjacent to Anarkali and other parts of the city. He said the law enforcers got some important leads through call record data and footage from CCTV cameras installed in the bazaar and the roads leading to it as well as other areas.
Geo-fencing and other such methods helped security officials in spotting the key suspect who was believed to have planted the explosives at Paan Mandi in Anarkali. The official, however, refused to confirm any breakthrough, saying it would be premature to disclose anything as investigations were under way.
Meanwhile, Mayo Hospital discharged 20 people injured in the blast whereas eight victims were still under treatment.
Of the eight injured people under treatment, only one was critical, said Medical Superintendent Dr Iftikhar Ahmad while speaking to Dawn. The remaining seven could be discharged from hospital within a couple of days, he hoped.
Earlier on Thursday night, the official source said, a CTD team had picked up two suspects from Mayo Hospital and shifted them to an undisclosed location for interrogation. Both were released shortly afterwards when it transpired they were members of a religio-political party.
The official said the LEAs were analysing a lot of CCTV footage gathered from the Safe City Authority, which could play a critical role in getting their hands on the terrorists behind the blast.
To a question, he remarked there was a strong possibility the newly formed Baloch Nationalist Army was behind the blast, as the two groups that merged to create this new organisation had used timed-devices for their attacks previously.
Separately, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Rao Sardar Ali Khan has also tasked the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) with handling the blast case besides the CTD.
On Friday, the CIA chief held a meeting after examining the Paan Mandi crime scene and dispatched teams to inspect the roads that could have been used by the prime suspect to escape.
“We have dispatched teams to all the bus stations, railway stations and exit-entry points of the provincial capital,” he said, adding that the IGP also alerted the regional police officers and district police officers of Punjab to intensify security to trace the culprits.
Also on Friday, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and IGP Khan visited Mayo Hospital to inquire after the injured victims.
Three people were killed and over 30 injured in the bomb blast at the crowded Paan Mandi of New Anarkali bazaar on Thursday noon. The CTD registered a case on charges of murder, attempted murder and anti-terrorism.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2022