Pakistan detains over 5,000 terror suspects

Pakistani authorities detained more than 5,000 suspects, then released most of them, in the two days since a suicide bomber hit a park in the eastern city of Lahore at Easter, killing at least 70 people, a provincial minister said.
Pakistan detains over 5,000 terror suspects

Investigators were keeping 216 suspects in custody pending further investigation, said Rana Sanaullah, a state minister for Punjab province from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ruling party.

“After further investigation we will know more about them,” he said. “If someone is found to be guilty they will be charged.”

Details of the sweeping raids — aimed at anyone suspected of Islamist extremism — came as the Taliban faction claiming responsibility for the attack issued a new threat, singling out the media.

“Everyone will get their turn in this war, especially the slave Pakistani media,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, tweeted.

“We are just waiting for the appropriate time.”

The Easter bombing was Pakistan’s deadliest attack since a 2014 school massacre claimed by the Taliban killed 134 students.

Sunday’s attack, which included 29 children among the dead, showed the militants can still cause carnage despite military raids on their northwestern strongholds.

Lahore is the capital of Punjab, Pakistan’s richest and most populous province and Sharif’s political heartland.

Sanaullah said at least 160 raids were carried out by a mixture of police, counter-terrorism and intelligence agents and confirmed that army and paramilitary forces would be used in future operations.

Military and government officials said that the military was preparing to launch a new paramilitary counter-terrorism crackdown in Punjab.

The move represents the government once again granting special powers to the military to fight Islamist militants.

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, which also previously declared loyalty to Islamic State, has carried out five attacks in Pakistan since December.

In a TV address to the nation on Monday night, Sharif vowed to continue pursuing militants.

“I am here to renew a pledge that we are keeping count of every drop of blood of our martyrs. This account is being settled, and we will not rest till it is paid,” Sharif said.

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