ISLAMABAD: At least five terrorists were killed and over 600 suspects arrested in an extensive operation launched by security forces across Pakistan's Punjab province following Sunday's suicide blast in Lahore, media reports said on Tuesday.
At least 74 people, including 29 children, were killed and over 300 others injured in the blast that hit the crowded Gulshan-e-Iqbal park on Sunday evening. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Citing Urdu TV channel Dunya, Xinhua said the five terrorists, belonging to a banned militant group, were killed in two separate shootouts with security forces during search operations in Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh districts in southern Punjab.
According to reports, at least 250 suspects were detained in Sialkot, 200 in Gujranwala, 80 in Faisalabad, 34 in Rahim Yar Khan, 18 in Kasur, 10 in Bhakkar, six in Attock and one in Bahawalpur, while several others were arrested from other parts of the province.
Security forces launched the operation on Sunday night after army chief General Raheel Sharif chaired a high-level meeting of military officials and directed the commanders to start a quick operation to bring the terrorists and their facilitators to justice.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in an address to the nation on Monday had reiterated the government's resolve to wipe out the menace of terrorism from the country.
A spokesperson of the Inter-Services Public Relations said a huge cache of arms and ammunition were recovered during the operations.
Punjab's Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told the media on Tuesday that at least 160 operations have been conducted so far.