LAHORE - The provincial counter terrorism department Tuesday claimed to have arrested seven terrorists including three members of the so-called Islamic State terror group.

A Punjab CTD official yesterday told The Nation that the raids were conducted on a tip-off in Multan and Sialkot districts during the last 24 hours. All the seven terror suspects were shifted to an unknown location for further investigation.

The arrested militants were plotting gun and bomb attacks on shrines, religious processions and the government installations, the official said. The counter terror operatives also seized huge cache of explosive material and firearms from their possession.

The arrests come as the law enforcement agencies mounted one of the biggest security operations in the Punjab province ahead of Eid Miladun Nabi (PBUH). The day was celebrated across the country on Monday with traditional zeal and fervour.

A spokesperson for the Punjab CTD said the special teams of CTD raided the places in Multan and Sialkot districts as they received credible and actionable intelligence from secret sources.

First, a CTD team of Gujranwala region raided a place near Sunaronwala Bridge, Eminabad Road Sialkot, on Monday afternoon and arrested three terrorists. They were identified by CTD police as Amir, Waqas and Abdul Jabbar.

“The CTD had information that three terrorists Amir, Waqas and Abdul Jabbar of proscribed organisation ISIS were planning to attack some shrines or Eid Milad procession in city area of Sialkot,” the spokesperson said. “Upon this information, the CTD team raided the place and arrested the suspects.” 

During the raid, the CTD team also seized 1475-gram explosive material, 8.3 inches safety fuse and three detonators from their possession. According to officials, Amir Ali alias Haider Ali and Abdul Jabbar belonged to Chandowal village of district Narowal. Similarly, Waqas Arshad is said to be resident of Amir Singh, Sheikhupura. The suspects were shifted to an unknown facility for interrogation.

Initial investigation suggested the terror suspects were involved in targeted killings, according to the CTD spokesperson. A case was filed against the suspects with the Gujranwala CTD police station.

Separately, another CTD team conducted the raid in Multan district. The CTD Multan got credible information from a secret source that terrorists belonging to Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan had come to Multan to launch attacks on sensitive installations and offices of law enforcement agencies. On this information, a CTD team raided a place near Oil Depot, Sher Shah, in Multan and arrested four terrorists, the spokesperson said.

The terror suspects were named by CTD as Sailab Khan, Akbar Khan, Ikram Khan and Usman. The officials also recovered two suicide jackets, one rifle SMG, two pistols and several bullets from their possession. The suspects were shifted to a facility for further interrogation.

A criminal case under section (7 ATA, 4/5 ESA) was registered with the Multan CTD police station yesterday. Further investigation was underway.

Senior officials routinely deny the presence of the Middle-East based terror group in Pakistan but several members of the outfit have been arrested in recent months from different parts of the country.

In mid September, four members of the self-styled Islamic State group were arrested during an operation in Lahore’s Iqbal Town. Two weeks later, another four members of the self-styled Islamic State group were arrested during a raid near the Multan Railway Station.

The latest arrests come months after Pakistan Army declared that it had foiled Islamic State’s attempts to establish operations in the country. According to the military spokesman, they had arrested more than 300 militants and their sympathisers including 20 core organisers during the countrywide operations.

Last month, the self-styled terror group claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on Shah Noorani Sufi shrine in the Balochistan province.

More than 50 people were killed and 100 others wounded when a teenager blew himself up among the people during traditional dance at the shrine.

In early August, Jamaatul Ahrar, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban having links with ISIS, claimed the responsibility for the attack on lawyers and journalists in Quetta.

More than 70 people mostly lawyers died in the horrific blast that ripped through the emergency ward of the civil hospital. The same group was behind the deadliest attack in the country so far this year; the suicide attack in a crowded Lahore park that killed 75 people on Easter Sunday in March.