LAHORE - Top police officers believed that the police averted another Model Town massacre by observing maximum restraint, as members of the Christian community went on the rampage following two church bombings during Sunday mass in Youhanabad.

Even some of the protesters were equipped with guns and pistols but the police were ordered not to retaliate, a senior police officer said on Wednesday. Police investigators are collecting footages and other evidences to identify the attackers.

According to sources, the top police officers ordered reinforcement soon after the protests spread in the neighbourhood after Sunday afternoon. At one stage, the sources said, the anti-riot police were pulled back on the instructions of the provincial hierarchy.

The police leadership showed wisdom by allowing the community members to stage protests and by asking the cops to stay alert but never react. “Had the police tried to use force against the charged protesters, it could have been another Model Town tragedy,” a senior official commented on the condition of anonymity.

A senior police investigator told this reporter that they are also in touch with the National Data Base and Registration (Nadra) to get record and ascertain the identity of those involved in hooliganism. “Both the terrorist attacks on the churches and lynching of two persons after the incident are the worst kinds of terrorism,” the interior minister on Tuesday told the National Assembly.

Lahore investigations police chief SSP Rana Ayaz Saleem said that no arrest had been made yet in connection with the lynching of two men. “None of the attackers has been identified so far and no one has been arrested,” he added. The officer also said that the police were investigating the case by applying scientific methods to identify the culprits with concrete evidences. He ruled out the possibility of any police operation in the locality.

Lahore police have asked leaders of the Christian community to handover the mobsters involved in lynching of two innocent men and smashing public and private properties since some of them have been identified through the footages.

“We are not planning to launch an operation in Youhanabad to hunt down the wanted criminals. But we cannot spare those responsible for killings of two innocent men,” another officer said.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had ordered the authorities to arrest those involved in lynching of two men as the government constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into Youhanabad tragedy. Headed by Lahore DIG (Investigation) the JIT is comprised officers from the leading intelligence agencies.

More than 5,000 Christians rallied in Lahore on Monday, blocking roads, damaging Metro stations and shouting anti-government slogans in the second day of protests against the bombings. Sunday’s attacks had also sparked ‘mob justice’ as two suspects were lynched by the Christians. One of them was earlier identified as a glasscutter Muhammad Naeem. The other has been identified as 16-year-old Muhammad Adnan, a resident of Sargodha. Police said that his identification was ascertained through the DNA test.

Even if the police did not retaliate to calm down the snowballing situation, the protesters have set a negative trend by reacting aggressively in a country bracing for more bomb attacks in the days ahead as threat alerts indicate.