Official claims the group was attempting to enter Punjab from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province to stage suicide attacks.
The Punjab Police have arrested 12 suspected terrorists, including three alleged senior militants, as they were attempting to enter Punjab province from neighboring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, said police official Nasir Ali Rizvi.
According to Rizvi, the 12 suspects were taken into custody after police received intelligence reports that a group of suicide bombers was about to enter Punjab province. “After receiving the intelligence reports, police reacted immediately and cordoned off the area near Attock,” he told Newsweek.
“As we were checking vehicles, a van we had directed to stop for a routine examination suddenly sped up,” he said. “Finding this suspicious, a police contingent started following the van and forced the driver to stop the vehicle,” he added. “We immediately arrested the 12 suspects, including the three senior militants.”
According to Rizvi, the three masterminds of the operation were escorting nine teenagers to act as suicide bombers in Punjab province. “The nine teenagers arrested were supposed to be used as suicide bombers throughout Punjab,” he said. “During initial interrogation, the children told us [police] that they belonged to different cities of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and had been ordered to earn a place in heaven by waging jihad on non-Muslims in Punjab,” he added.
Rizvi says an investigation is underway to determine the areas that were to be targeted. “Due to the ongoing military operation [Zarb-e-Azb], police in Punjab are on high alert and are checking any vehicles that try to leave or enter Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” he added.
The Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan tribal agency on June 15. According to the ISPR, at least 300 militants and 12 security personnel have been killed in the ongoing assault, but there is no way to verify this as journalists are not permitted in the tribal areas. The Army has said the operation will continue until all terrorist activity in the tribal areas has been eradicated. In retaliation, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has threatened to “burn” Islamabad, the federal capital, and Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.