LAHORE: The Punjab police chief has claimed to have busted a network that carried out the killing of three men inside a mosque in Sialkot on Wednes­day, adding that security forces have gathered the information and those behind the attack will be exposed soon.

A prayer leader, a religious activist belonging to an outlawed outfit and his security guard were killed when assailants opened fire in a mosque in Daska during Fajr. The apparent target was Mohammad Shahid Latif, who had been a Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) activist in the past.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Punjab Inspector General of Police Dr Usman Anwar said “a hostile intelligence agency’s network”, which carried out the killings has been busted.

Without naming the country, the IGP claimed the “rogue nation’s hostile intelligence agency” was responsible for the killings. He said law-enforcement agencies, including police, the Counter-Terrorism Department, Inter-Services Intellige­n­­ce, Intelligence Bureau and the Military Intelligence have jointly arrested the attackers.

Punjab police chief says attackers arrested within 24 hours, will soon be exposed

The DPOs of Kasur, Sialkot, Pakpattan and the Organised Crime Unit of Lahore police played a key role in detecting the network behind the attack, IGP Anwar added.

“The network was not only unearthed, but arrests were also made within 24 hours of the attack,” said the IGP.

He added that those who planned the attack have also been identified, and most of them have also been arrested.

‘All elements will be exposed’

“This attack was planned outside Pakistan. A hostile intelligence agency sent a person to Pakistan. We have all the records about the person who came here, who he met, and even his geolocation. They came here from Oct 6 to 9 and executed the plan on Oct 11.”

IGP Anwar said he would unveil further details of the “nefarious design of the enemy country” in his next press conference, along with concrete evidence and identities of the three shooters, besides the local facilitators.

“We have all kinds of evidence, including data from hotel booking websites,” he said, adding that police had also searched the hotels where the perpetrators allegedly stayed.

“The CTD has collected irrefutable evidence, and we will present the same to the media in the next press conference and courts.”

IGP Anwar warned the “rats” who were hatching conspiracies against the state of Pakistan to be ready to be exposed for their “evil deeds” as the Foreign Office and other institutions were working towards it.

The involvement of external elements in the attack was also confirmed from the evidence found at the crime scene during inspection and investigation that unveiled the conspiracy hatched by the “evil country” abroad against Pakistan, he said.

Sources told Dawn that a total of seven people had been arrested in connection with the mosque killings.

Of them, three were said to be handlers and facilitators while four of them were shooters.

Sources said that all seven went to Dubai where they were briefed on the details of their assignment, and each man was paid Rs5 million for their role.

Three of the shooters were nabbed from Kasur, while the fourth was taken into custody from Pakpattan.

This is not the first time police have linked a foreign intelligence agency to local murders. On Sept 12, unidentified assailants shot dead the administrator of a seminary in Karachi’s Gulistan-i-Jauhar, while a seminary teacher was gunned down on Sept 6. Police had said a preliminary investigation into the murder pointed to the inv­o­­­lvement of the Indian intelligence agen­­cy, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The Sindh CTD later said the spate of killings was allegedly linked to RAW.

RAW’s involvement was also suspec­ted in the killing of a Jamaatud Dawa-linked person in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Rawalakot area on Sept 8.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2023

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