Police have arrested eight suspected members of the Islamic State group over plans to establish a terrorist network and carry out attacks, officials said on Tuesday.
The eight suspects were arrested after anti-terror police raided their hideout in Daska, central Punjab, according to provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. “They were trying to establish their group network and had plans to carry out attacks,” he said. “All of them are young and in their 20s,” he added. “They were taking instruction via the Internet from a person named Abu Muawiyah.”
He said that police also recovered “Daesh literature and CDs.”
Police commandos from the counter-terrorism department (CTD) raided the hideout and made the arrests on Monday, according to the official.
A senior CTD official confirmed the arrests and told AFP that some of the suspected militants were former members of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), a charity associated with the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
LeT has been blamed for carrying out an attack on Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people.
The arrests in Pakistan came as a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed 26 people after crashing into the main gate of a government office in the northwest of the country. The blast in Mardan demonstrated the Pakistani Taliban’s continued ability to stage deadly attacks, despite a major military offensive against its headquarters that analysts say has reduced its capacity.
Islamabad has officially denied that I.S. is operating in Pakistan, which has been wracked by Al Qaeda and Taliban-linked violence for more than a decade. But authorities have expressed fears that I.S. could find recruits among Pakistan’s myriad of Islamist militant groups.
In May, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack that claimed the lives of at least 43 members of the Shia Ismaili minority in Karachi.