The terror continued to engulf all major cities on Friday as security forces and other law enforcement agencies continued their search operations throughout the country, according to senior government and security officials.
At least six terrorists were killed during a search operation in Sultan Mahmud Sarki near Muzaffargarh in the wee hours of Friday. The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) launched a raid following a tip off. There were three more terrorists who managed to escape the scene. Weapons and explosives were also recovered from the militant hideouts, belonged to the bannedLashkar-e-Jhangvi.
In Lahore, 14 suspects were rounded up in a search operation in different localities a day after a mysterious explosion rocked a posh market in Defence area killing at least 10 people. The search operation was jointly conducted by the CTD and the paramilitary forces in Nishtar Colony. During the house-to-house search, bio-data of the residents was also checked.
The National College of Arts (NCA) located on The Mall has been closed for a week because of security concerns and students have been instructed to vacate the hostels with the immediate effect. On Friday night, two boys and one girls hostel were evacuated and no one will be allowed to reside in these hostels for one week.
As many as 200 boys and 100 girls live in these hostels and all of them suffered as the university administration took the decision abruptly on Friday night prior to give them any notice. Most of the students come from far-flung areas and they were found stranded on the roads as most of them do not have any alternate place to live in the city.
According to the police sources, a notice was issued to the college administration to improve the security arrangements a week ago and police officials repeatedly asked the college administration to beef up security but they could not comply the orders. Now, the police officials said that the hostels will remain closed until the security is improved there. According to the college administration, the campus will open on March 6.
The police officials carried out search operations at different shops, plazas, workshops, seminaries and other religious places, bus terminals and railway station. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Dr Haider Ashraf said that 45 suspects were arrested after the search operation that was jointly carried out by different law enforcement agencies.
A rigorous search operation was also carried out in the Punjab University’s hotels and two suspects were arrested from there. The flag march of the police remained continued till late night as the annual polls of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) are scheduled for Saturday (today). Heavy contingency of the police launched search operations in the surroundings of the court to ensure the security for the polling.
The Interior Ministry approved the request of the high court administration of appointing the paramilitary force on the polling day keeping in view that the people hailing from the judiciary and legal profession were attacked in the recent incidents of terrorism in Peshawar and Charsadda. It may be mentioned here that the Rangers have also been deployed at all entry and exit points of Lahore.
In a meeting at the CM House in Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Corps Commander Lt Gen Shahid Baig Mirza decided to further intensify the crackdown against terrorists across the province. They discussed overall law and order situation in the light of the current wave of terrorism. They shared the details of the operation intensified against terrorists and their accomplices in the city and in other areas of the province.
In North Waziristan, the security forces have seized a huge cache of explosives. According to security officials, the explosives stashed in large drums were recovered during a search operation in Zawar Naray area. In Peshawar, another major terror bid was foiled as a huge cache of explosives was seized while being shifted to the city area of Ring Road.
In Shikarpur, a suspected suicide bomber was arrested by secret agencies. The police officials said that the terrorist, who appears to be a Tajik, was planning attacks on sensitive installations, as per initial investigation. During the raid, the security forces recovered a suicide vest along with explosives from his possession.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the blast in the Defence area was an accident that occurred was due to gas leakage from faulty cylinders and was an act of terrorism. He said that no traces of explosives were found from the site of the explosion.