LAHORE - Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department arrested over a dozen terror suspects in a series of raids launched in various parts of the Punjab province following the deadly blast in Lahore.

An official on Tuesday said that most of the arrests were made during joint operations involving police commandoes, paramilitary troops, and counter-terror operatives. The suspects were shifted to different facilities for further interrogations.

According to a CTD spokesman, two active members of the Jamat-ul-Ahrar, an offshoot of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan were arrested during a successful raid on the Walton road in Lahore.

The spokesman claimed that the arrests were not related to the Lahore blast.

“It was an intelligence based operation. The arrested suspects were plotting attacks on law-enforcement agencies in the next week,” the spokesman said.

The CTD team also seized explosives and firearms from their possession. The arrested suspects were identified by police Ali Noor and Sartaj Khan.

Sources in the central police office said the arrests were made during security operations in Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, and Rahimyar Khan districts. However, they did not share further details.  

At least 26 people including eight policemen were killed and 70 others wounded when a suicide bomber hit a group of policemen close to a checkpoint in Lahore’s Old vegetable market in the Kot Lakhpat police area on Monday afternoon.  Bomb disposal squad experts said at least 10kg to 12kg explosive was used in the blast carried out by a suicide bomber. “Ball bearings and steal nails were seized from the crime scene,” they added. Initial investigations suggested that the bomber reached the site on an auto-rickshaw. Then, he went straight towards the policemen and blew up his suicide jacket.

The CTD police late Monday night registered a case against the bomber and his unknown facilitators and launched the investigations. According to the police report, some policemen were standing under a tree amid scorching heat when the bomber exploded his suicide vest.

Police sources revealed that a joint investigation team comprising officers from different security and intelligence agencies were investigating the incident.