Authorities on Wednesday said they had arrested at least 18 suspects in connection with a major suicide attack last week that killed 15 people and injured scores on Lahore’s Mall Road, reported Waqt News.

The Counter-Terrorism Department in Punjab said security forces detained 18 suspects including a man who, it claimed, used to manufacture suicide vests for bombers. “The person had provided suicide vests for blasts at Wagah, Iqbal Park and Charing Cross,” said a CTD spokesman.

The Punjab government earlier in the day gave special powers to a paramilitary force to conduct raids across the province. Rangers in Punjab will follow the reports provided by the military intelligence agencies.

Following special powers to Rangers, a military spokesman announced the launch of a nationwide anti-terrorist operation. "Pakistan army launches 'Operation Radd-ul-Fassad' (elimination of violence) across the country," a military statement said.

The announcement came after Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa chaired a high-level security meeting in Lahore.

Analysts said the military was seeking to limit militants' movements from one place to another by carrying out a nationwide operation.

Troops and police have been on high alert in Pakistan after last week's wave of attacks - including one in Lahore and another on a Sufi shrine in Sindh - killed more than 100 people.

After the attacks, Islamabad launched a violent crackdown, with authorities saying they had killed dozens of alleged terrorists and carried out strikes on militant hideouts along the border with Afghanistan.