GHQ siege mastermind captured, claim police

LAHORE: Security agencies captured on Tuesday ‘Qari’ Ishtiaq, a key ‘commander’ of the Punjabi Tehrik-i-Taliban network, who allegedly masterminded the Oct 10 attack on the army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

Ishtiaq was arrested during a raid in Bahawalpur and security agents seized 400 kilograms of explosives and weapons.

He is also said to be linked to the Islamabad Marriot Hotel bombing and attacks on the Manawan Police Training School and FIA headquarters in Lahore.

Ishtiaq was arrested on information provided by Hijratullah who had been captured outside the Manawan Police School on March 30.

Seven other militants were picked up from Sargodha, Gujranwala and Mailsi on information provided by Ishtiaq.

Security was beefed up in Lahore after receiving information that two militants had entered the city with explosive-laden vehicles.

Police said that pickets and road checkpoints had been alerted about two cars (one of them LEM-4942 white Suzuki), which could be used for bombing attacks.

According to sources, the Taliban had also transported a Mazda truck a few days ago, containing 2,500kg explosives stuffed in canisters of vegetable ghee, for terror attacks in Punjab.

Capital City Police Officer Pervez Rathore told Dawn that agencies had warned police three times over the past weeks about the arrival of suspects and explosive-packed vehicles.

Intelligence reports also suggested that 15 suicide bombers, aged between 16 and 20, had entered Punjab with as many explosive-packed vehicles. Nine of the 15 vehicles were said to be white, three red and another three were silver coloured.

According to the sources, terrorists could target government buildings, sensitive installations, schools and markets. A police official, however, cautioned that not all information provided on by intelligence agencies could be correct.

He said it was not possible for police to guard all high-profile personalities, establishments, offices and places mentioned in dozens of reports issued by the agencies over the past six months because going by them the entire city would appear to be the target of terror attacks.

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