LAHORE: Pakistani police have arrested five suspects linked to an attack on a spy agency building in Lahore last year which killed 24 people, the city’s police chief said.
“The suspects have confessed their role in the suicide attack on the intelligence agency building,” police chief Aslam Tareen told reporters, adding that the group had been planning more terror attacks.
“The five were arrested a couple of days ago from Shahdara,” a neighbourhood in Lahore, the country’s eastern hub, Tareen told a press conference.
“We are in a warlike situation and this war on terror has spread across Pakistan, but we are trying to do our best to maintain security,” he said. It would take time to complete the investigation, he added.
Police said the suspects belonged to the previously unknown Al-Toheed-wa-al-Jihad faction which falls under the umbrella Pakistani militant group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and had trained in North Waziristan.
“They were activating themselves and planning terrorist activities in Lahore,” Tareen said.
The group was also engaged in kidnapping for ransom, an investigator said.
“They kidnapped people for ransom in 2009 in Faisalabad and Sialkot,” senior police investigator Zulfiqar Hameed told the press conference.
“Their next target was some security forces buildings in Lahore,” he said.
“Police have recovered four suicide vests, one rifle, 32 hand grenade pins, 13 number plates of vehicles, eight mortar shells and ammunition.”
At least 24 people were killed, including 13 policemen, civilians and security officers, in the May 2009 suicide attack on an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) building.
A group calling itself “Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab” claimed responsibility for the blast in a Turkish-language statement posted on militant websites.
Around 4,000 people have been killed in suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan since government forces raided the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in 2007. The attacks have been blamed on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked networks.