LAHORE: At least four terrorists have been killed and more than 600 suspects detained in 200-plus raids conducted by the paramilitary Rangers across Punjab as part of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, the military said on Saturday.
The raids were conducted in various areas of Punjab, including Karor, Layyah and Rawalpindi, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Those arrested include facilitators of Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA), which has claimed responsibility for the recent string of terrorist attacks across the country, it added.
The military’s media wing said that weapons and extremist material have also been recovered during the raids on houses, seminaries and shops suspected of being used by terrorists as hideouts.
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The military on Wednesday announced the launch of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad following a sharp spike in terrorist attacks across the country earlier this month. The operation aims to indiscriminately eliminate all residual and latent terror threats from the country and consolidate gains made during previous military operations.
While Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad is being carried out across the country, the fact that the decision to launch it was taken during a meeting at the corps headquarters in Lahore suggests that Punjab is central to the new offensive. Many observers say the province has long been ignored when it comes to fighting militant groups due to political expediency and other reasons.
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Apart from the Rangers raids, the Lahore police also carried out a search operation in and around the provincial capital’s Manzoor Colony and Afghan Basti areas. The police used biometric devices to confirm the identities of over 160 people, officials said, adding that 50 suspects were arrested and taken to the Lower Mall police station for further investigations.
Meanwhile, a four-member joint investigation team (JIT) was constituted by the Punjab government to investigate Thursday’s cylinder blast in the city. The Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) has ruled out the possibility of any presence of explosives at the blast site.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2017.