LAHORE - Police have seized a huge cache of firearms by capturing 13 suspects including weapon dealers and abettors of militants.

CCPO Muhammad Amin Wains told reporters yesterday that the suspects were being grilled by a joint team of investigators. The suspects were arrested during a special operation launched in Lahore early Saturday.

“It is too early to say (anything at this stage). I can only tell that the Lahore police have done a job very well,” the city police chief said while addressing a hurriedly called news conference at his office yesterday night.

“We will definitely unearth the forward and backward linkages since the suspects are being interrogated,” he added.

Wains said the police were widening the scope of investigations to unearth all the characters involved in the illegal trade of illicit weapons. Accompanied by DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf, DIG (Investigations) Sultan Chaudhry and SSP Hassan Mushtaq Sukhera, the CCPO said that the suspects tried to smuggle weapons in different parts of the metropolis.

The top police officer described the operation as tip of the iceberg and said that cops were conducting more raids to arrest the facilitators, carriers, sellers and buyers of the prohibited firearms. “There is a strong possibility that these automatic guns, rifles, pistols, and shot-guns were being supplied to criminals and militants. We can’t rule out the possible connection between the smugglers and the militants,” Wains said.

Policemen displayed hundreds of guns, pistols, shot-guns, assault rifles, and thousands of bullets before the media crews. According to the police, the automatic weapons were stashed in a car that was intercepted by police on the edge of Lahore near Babu Sabu interchange on the motorways.

The police had prior information about the smuggling deal, the CCPO explained. He said the investigators extracted important information from the suspects before carrying out several raids to nab their accomplices. More arrests are expected in coming days.

Responding to a question, the CCPO said that the recent police operations are part of the national action plan to control gun crimes.

Police have launched a full-scale campaign in Lahore to check and verify all kind of weapons including those having permits. Senior police officers say they believe their strict control over guns would help them control crimes in the society.

Amin Wains also warned the weapons dealers that they would be considered as abettors if they tried to supply firearms to the militants or criminals. “We have successfully smashed a network of weapon suppliers, carriers, and buyers. All those characters involved in this business would be brought to justice,” the officer said.

To another question, he said that the police were randomly checking vehicles and luggage of passengers at all the entry and exit points of Lahore to intercept the movement of suspected elements.

The field officers were directed to step up clampdown on the elements involved in weapon smuggling and special squads were constituted for this mission, the CCPO said.