Four days after Taliban's brazen strike on Pakistan's Army headquarters, security agencies are continuing their sweep to nab suspects involved in the attack and other recent militant assaults and have arrested about 40 people over the past two days.
In an operation in this capital of Punjab province, police picked up 40 people, including a key suspect Luqman, who was caught with an explosive jacket, police said. Most of the suspects arrested here belong to banned militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Siphah-e-Sahaba, Sipah-e-Muhammad and Jaish-e-Mohammad, all Punjabi militant groups.
"They were arrested for their alleged links with those carrying out terrorist attacks across the country," a senior police officer said. Luqman was nabbed at one of 16 checkpoints set up along the 75-km boundary between Punjab and the restive North West Frontier Province.
Luqman has links with Aqeel alias Dr Usman, who was shot and caught during the commando operation to clear the occupation by militants of the intelligence office in the Army Headquarters complex, a police source told PTI.
The police source said Luqman also had links with Hanif Gabol, a resident of Choti Zaireen who was involved in recruiting teenage seminary students for training in militant camps in the lawless Waziristan tribal region. "Luqman himself trained in Afghanistan for six years before returning to Pakistan," the source said.
In the ongoing swoop, the police and intelligence agencies, besides raiding some madrassas or seminaries, have checked inns, guest houses, hotels, private hostels and slum areas where Afghans are living.
In the wake of mounting Taliban attacks, police have stepped up security measures and have announced strict new rules for renting out property, ensuring that no person rents out without informing the nearest police station. "In case a tenant is involved in terrorist activities, the house owner will face similar charges. Since terrorists come from different parts of the country, especially the NWFP, the house owners in Punjab must be very careful in renting out their property," Senior Superintendent of Police Chaudhry Shafiq told PTI.
He said police were strictly monitoring seminaries and action will be taken against real estate agents and hotel and guesthouse owners who do not maintain records, and departmental action would be initiated against Station House Officers who fail to act against errant landlords. Shafiq said without cooperation of citizens, terrorism cannot be eliminated, and even "apparently insignificant" information given by people could help prevent major crimes.
Terrorists who attacked the General Headquarters had lived for almost two months in a house rented on Islamabad's outskirts. During a raid on the house, police seized military uniforms, detonators and fuses used in suicide jackets.