Anti-Pakistan agency involved in Lahore Johar Town blast: CM Buzdar

"We have traced all high-profile cases [of terrorism] in Punjab," says CM Punjab Usman Buzdar

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Chief Minister Usman Buzdar addresses a press conference. Photo: Geo News screengrab
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar addresses a press conference. Photo: Geo News screengrab

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar Monday revealed during a press conference that "anti-state agencies" are involved in the Lahore Johar Town blast. 

"Terrorists responsible for the Johar Town bomb blast in Lahore have been arrested," said the chief minister. "An anti-Pakistan agency is involved in the bomb blast," he added. 

He said that the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Punjab had traced the culprits behind the incident within 16 hours of the blast. 

The chief minister heaped praise on CTD Punjab for pursuing the case in a professional manner to expose those who were behind the attack. 

"All local and international characters behind the blast were identified [by the CTD Punjab]," he said. "I want to inform our friends in the media that we have conducted raids across the country, in just four days, to arrest the terrorists involved in the incident."

Terming it a "great achievement" for the Punjab government, the chief minister said that all those involved in the incident had been arrested. Buzdar said those who had sold, bought the car and planted explosives it in, had all been arrested. 

Buzdar said that after a thorough investigation and sufficient evidence obtained, the authorities had concluded that an "anti-state agency is directly involved in the terrorist incident and had provided financial support" to elements behind the Johar Town blast. 

"I want to inform you that the Punjab government has traced all high-profile cases in the province and arrested their suspects," he added. 

Punjab IG delves into details of Lahore Johar Town blast, main suspect

Punjab Inspector-General (IG) Inam Ghani delved into details of the investigation, saying that CTD Punjab had been able to arrest culprits "within hours" of the incident, adding that police was able to ascertain how the car used in the blast was bought and through which means. 

"We have arrested the main linchpin who had the blast carried out in Pakistan," said Ghani. "We have arrested the ones who were used in Pakistan to conduct the blast, those who bought the car and repaired it as well, are also under arrest," he revealed. 

Ghani said 10 Pakistanis were arrested in connection with the blast, adding that they comprised both men and women. He said Punjab police has also managed to identify the people who are part of the foreign agency involved in the incident.  

"We have shared [the information] with our intelligence agencies as to who the members of these anti-state agency are," said Ghani. "A JIT has also been constitued under under the chief minister's directives, to investigate the case further" he added. 

The Punjab police chief said the way this attack was carried out indicates that this was not the first time this group was carrying out subversive activities in Pakistan. 

"We will also investigate which activities, in which parts of Pakistan, this agency carried out and we will come to a conclusion," he vowed. "As far as the hostile anti-state agencies are concerned, we have names at the moment, but if there are others involved, we will get to them as well," added Ghani. 

In response to a question, the Punjab IG rejected media reports that the suspect's name had been listed under the Fourth Schedule of the Terrorist Act. 

Ghani said the car used in the explosion had been stolen in 2010 but had been recovered by police in 2011. He said as per footage obtained from a CCTV camera, it can be seen that a police officer had stopped the car from but it had Superdari [vehicle seized by police during a criminal case but later released to the person entitled to its possession] documents. 

He shared additional details about the suspect who carried out the attack. 

"Even though he has origins in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the man is a resident of Punjab and speaks fluent Punjabi," he added. 

Answering another question, the IG Punjab said "you all know who hostile agencies and hostile countries are", however, he stopped short of naming them and said police had shared the relevant information with Pakistan's intelligence agencies. 

He said that these agencies were using agents for money to carry out subversive activities in Pakistan. 

"It isn't like their own members are entering the country and carrying out these attacks. Unfortunately, they have many agents here who do it [for money]," he added. 

Network behind Lahore's Johar Town blast nabbed: sources

 The law enforcement agencies have busted the terror network involved in Lahore's Johar Town blast, Geo News had reported Monday citing unnamed sources.

According to the TV report, CTD Punjab traced the network in Lahore, Karachi, Jhang and Rawalpindi. “It is believed that Indian and Afghanistan's intelligence agencies masterminded the terror activity,” sources said.

Earlier, the investigators have achieved a breakthrough in the blast case as a suspect, believed to be the man who parked the explosive-laden vehicle, was arrested from Rawalpindi.

Sources said that suspect Eid Gul was taken into custody in a raid by the CTD Punjab from Rawalpindi and was shifted to Lahore.

Three people were killed and scores were left injured when a vehicle laden with explosives blew up in the city's Johar Town near Hafiz Saeed's residence last week. Police said militants had targeted police in the explosion.

Law enforcement agencies had conducted raids in Punjab cities and Karachi and made arrests.

Last Friday, the security agencies had carried out a raid at a man's residence in Karachi for his suspected involvement in the deadly blast.

The investigation had revealed that the man, Peter Paul David, had visited Lahore three times in the last one-and-a-half months and resided there for a total of 27 days.

The agencies, according to sources, have found evidence that he had met several people, while they have also obtained his immigration data. The car used in the blast was also registered to him.

David runs a scrap and hotel business in Bahrain and moved his family from the Middle-Eastern country to Pakistan in 2010, sources said, adding that he had arrived in the country a month-and-a-half ago, during which, he went to Lahore three times.

Was Hafiz Saeed the target?

IGP Ghani surmised that police had been targeted in the attack. While speaking to the media shortly after the blast, he had advised people to not pay any heed to rumours related to the blast.

The IGP had the media that the CTD is probing the incident and a detailed report will be shared about the nature of the blast and the material used.

"We are not sure what caused the explosion or whether it was a planted device [that caused the explosion], or a suicide blast," he had said at the time.

In response to a question whether Hafiz Saeed — the leader of the outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) was the target — Ghani had said: "There is a police picket near the house of a high-value target, which is why the vehicle could not have gone near the house." This is why he believes the police were targeted, reported Geo News.

He did not provide any further information on the high-value target.

"You should be thankful to the police," he had said.

Ghani vowed to arrest those behind the terrorist act.