Punjab law minister says police, paramilitary, troops and intelligence agents have conducted 56 joint operations.
Pakistan has detained more than 200 people and questioned thousands more as authorities hunt down the militants responsible for the Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore that killed 73 people, including children, the Punjab provincial law minister said Tuesday.
“More than 5,000 people were searched and interrogated and most of them were allowed to go, but some 216 have been apprehended for further investigations,” Rana Sanaullah told reporters.
Hundreds were injured when explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near a children’s play area in the park in an operation claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). A spokesman for the group said it had targeted Christians.
Sanaullah said 56 intelligence operations had been carried out jointly by police, paramilitary, troops and intelligence agents in the last 24 hours in Punjab. More were being undertaken in all districts of the province “against sectarian militants and extremists,” he said.
Security for 550 churches in the province has been increased, he said, and a five-member team has been tasked with investigating Sunday’s attack.
On Tuesday the death toll climbed to 73 after a 16-year-old boy succumbed to his injuries, doctors said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and military chief Gen. Raheel Sharif have both vowed to bring those behind the attack to justice.