QUETTA: As the ninth of Muharram processions culminated peacefully across the country on Saturday, paramilitary forces claimed that they have foiled a ‘major bid’ to disrupt peace in Quetta, the city which has seen the worst sectarian violence in the past.
The Frontier Corps Balochistan has averted a ‘sectarian’ attack in Quetta by recovering a vehicle rigged with explosives, the military’s media wing said in a statement on Saturday.
“A vehicle to be used as [a] vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) [was] recovered from Tore Shah, north of Pishin [district] during an intelligence-based operation,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
The vehicle-borne IED, according to the ISPR, was to be used by sectarian terrorists to disrupt Muharram processions in Quetta. “The mastermind [behind the plan] and his two accomplices [were also] arrested [during the raid],” it added.
Twin cities in lockdown for Muharram 9 procession
Elsewhere in the volatile province, paramilitary troops seized explosives, ammunition and anti-tank mines stashed at a compound in the Makhi Nala area of Kahan, in Kohlu district – apparently to target Muharram processions in the province.
The raid was part of Operation Rudd-ul-Fasaad which had been launched last year to cleanse the country of latent threat of terrorism. “No arrest was made in the raid but a large cache of arms, explosive, anti-tank mines and ammunition was confiscated that was buried in the area,” a security source told The Express Tribune.
The haul included 150 YB2 fuses, 477 rounds of light machine gun (LMG), three hand grenades, mortar guns, 1kg of explosive material, five RPG7 fuses, seven anti-tank mines and other weapons. “The weapons were possibly to be used in attacks on Muharram processions,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the paramilitary Rangers, aided by other law enforcement agencies (LEAs), rounded up 27 suspects and recovered illegal weapons during raids across Punjab.
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The Rangers and LEAs carried out intelligence based operations (IBOs) in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, DG Khan, Lahore, Sialkot, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan ahead of Ashura to ensure law and order, according to the ISPR.
The paramilitary force also staged flag marches in important areas of major cities, while quick response forces have been deployed to vulnerable areas.
Earlier in the day, the ninth of Muharram processions were taken out in all major cities and towns of the country, which culminated after passing through their designated routes. Strict security measures had been put to ensure security of mourners. Pillion riding was banned, while mobile phone and internet services also remained suspended till evening.
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