21 arrested after Wagah blast as toll mounts to 61; high alert sounded in Pakistan

The law enforcement agencies arrested 20 'suspects' from the Wagah border areas during the search operation.

By: Press Trust of India | Lahore | Updated: November 4, 2014 8:43 am
International Indo-Pak, Attari border closed after bomb blast at Wagah (Pakistan) on Sunday. (Source: PTI Photo) International Indo-Pak, Attari border closed after bomb blast at Wagah (Pakistan) on Sunday. (Source: PTI Photo)

At least 21 people, including a suspected bomber, were arrested on Monday and explosives and a suicide vest recovered from Wagah border area as entire Pakistan was put on red alert after 61 people were killed in a deadly terror attack at the Indo-Pak land border crossing.

A Punjab Rangers official said that explosives and a suicide jacket had been found during a search operation in the area.

IN PICS: Security tightened at Attari after Wagah suicide attack

“The suicide vest stuffed with explosives and ball bearings has been defused by the bomb disposal squad,” he said.

The law enforcement agencies arrested 20 ‘suspects’ from the Wagah border areas during the search operation.

border-2 A Punjab Rangers official said that explosives and a suicide jacket had been found during a search operation at Wagah border. (source: IE photo by Rana Simranjit Singh)

Lahore police spokesman Niyab Haider Naqvi told PTI that the law enforcement agencies launched operation in the residential areas in Wagah after the attack and taken 20 suspects into custody.

“A joint investigation team of police, rangers and intelligence agencies have started its probe into the incident. The army and rangers along with police will provide security to Muharram processions in Lahore and they have been put on high alert in the wake of Sunday’s attack,” he said.

They also arrested a suspected suicide-bomber from Multan district, some 350 kilometres from Lahore.

The Lahore police yesterday issued a sketch of 17-year-old Abdul Rehman who had gone missing from a seminary in old city of Lahore for a month.

“The police along with an intelligence agency have raided a house in Multan district and arrested Abdul Rehman,” Naqvi said, adding Rehman has been shifted to unknown place for interrogation.

At least 61 people, including 10 women, eight children and three security personnel, have died in the attack that took place yesterday when a suicide attacker detonated a powerful bomb at Wagah. Over 100 injured are being treated in different hospitals in Lahore.

Three militant factions, including splinter groups of the  Taliban, have separately claimed responsibility for the suicide attack that took place after the popular flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah.

Al-Qaeda affiliated militant group Jundullah (Soldiers of Allah), a splinter group of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was the first to claim the attack.

Shortly afterwards Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said its bomber Hafiz Hanifullah carried out the attack. Later, a lesser-known Mahar Mehsud group also claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Hours after cancelling the beating retreat ceremony at Wagah following a deadly suicide attack, Pakistan today allowed general public to view the popular ceremony.

“We have decided in a meeting this afternoon to allow the general public to come and watch the flag-lowering ceremony,” Punjab Rangers spokesman Major Shahid Abbas said.

Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has directed officials of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to collect intelligence reports and share information with provincial authorities, Express News reported.

Mobile services have been suspended in parts of Pakistan and pillion riding banned in Karachi and Lahore, in an attempt to keep all processions peaceful.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack and vowed to eliminate terrorists from the country.

“We will not let the terrorists succeed in their aims to divide and scare the nation which stands united against the twisted ideology of the extremists,” he said in a statement.

He said operation Zarb-e-Azb underway in North Waziristan Agency against the local and foreign terrorists will be carried out until the last terrorist is taken out.

Meanwhile, the US today offered any assistance to Pakistan to track down the perpetrators behind the “senseless” terrorist attack.

“This act demonstrates terrorists’ blatant disregard for life. The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the people of Pakistan in their efforts to counter terrorism, uphold the rule of law, and build a peaceful future for themselves and their children,” Ambassador Richard Olson said in a statement.

“The US supports Pakistan’s efforts to bring all those involved in planning and executing this attack to justice and stand ready to provide any appropriate assistance to authorities investigating this tragic attack,” he said.

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