LAHORE - Investigators have yet to make important arrests in connection with the Lahore blast as clampdown on suspected militants has been intensified across the province.

A joint investigation team, constituted by the provincial government, is working on the case to unearth the perpetrators, facilitators and financers of a young suicide bomber who blew himself up in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore.

The metropolis Sunday witnessed the highest casualties in a single suicide blast in many years. The bomber had hit as many as 405 people, mostly children. The suicide blast in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park left 72 persons dead and over 333 wounded.

A senior police officer told The Nation that hundreds of suspects were arrested for having links with banned outfits since Sunday, but no important arrest could be made yet with regard to the Lahore blast , he said, seeking anonymity.

Police and intelligence operatives arrested another 190 people in a series of raids across the province. The Central Police Office issued a press note which confirmed the arrests of another 190 suspected militants during intelligence-based operations.

As per the press note, “In the wake of the Lahore incident, search operations are being carried out across the Punjab on the directions of Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera.”

“All field officers are performing their duties in the light of the given SOP (standard operating procedure) in this regard.” Only during the last 24 hours in all the districts, Punjab police conducted 104 operations and CTD 16, while 58 intelligence-based operations were conducted by other agencies.”

The press note further says, “During the search operations, 7,618 persons were questioned and 7,428 released after questioning. Police detained 190 persons for further enquiry.”

The provincial police officer Tuesday told reporters that at least 221 suspects had been arrested in the last 24 hours during the “combined” operations underway across the Punjab province.

In a related development, the Lahore CIA police yesterday killed five alleged terrorists and arrested several suspects in an extensive operation launched with the help of other security forces across the Punjab, police said yesterday.

They were killed in an armed encounter with police in the area of Nawab Town, Lahore, in the wee hours. Firearms were also recovered from them.

The police claimed the terrorists might be involved in Sunday’s blast in Gulshan Park, Lahore, as maps of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Racecourse Park and Bagh-e-Jinnah were recovered from them.

As per the police, the suspected terrorists were living in a rented house in LDA Avenue, Raiwind Road. Of the five killed suspects, three have been identified as Khan Waheed, Nasir and Junaid while two of them have yet to be identified.

On receiving secret information regarding the presence of terrorists in the area, police conducted a raid in the Raiwind Road area and an exchange of gunfire started that lasted a couple of hours. The police team recovered hand grenades, two kalashnikovs and three pistols from them.

It is worth mentioning here the IGP Punjab claimed that action had been taken by the CIA. When this reporter contacted a CIA officer, he said, requesting anonymity, “The CIA does not want to take its credit as it is a matter of terrorism.”

Then he forwarded a cell number of CIA DSP Saeed Kingra to this reporter, saying he was the officer concerned of the police encounter. As this reporter tried to contact Kingra, his cell remained unattended; a message was left on his cell, but he did not respond.

Online adds: On Tuesday, the CTD raided a hideout in Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur and killed five most wanted terrorists. The identity of the terrorists could not be ascertained immediately.

ASHRAF JAVED/AMRAIZ KHAN