Conflicting claims make probes hazy Suicide bombings in Punjab
LAHORE: Contrary to some policemen’s claims, law-enforcement agencies in Punjab and intelligence brains have failed to trace the ‘genuine identity’ of the alleged suicide bombers who have struck more than nine times in the province since last year. Nor have they found any clue to their formal links with militant groups.
The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) is also unable to trace the record of any suicide bomber who has struck in the province and targeted military and law-enforcement agencies, a senior official of an intelligence agency claimed.
However, a senior Punjab police officer claimed that all the cases of suicide blasts in the province had been traced and pointed to their links to Baitullah Mehsud and his sub-groups operating in the NWFP. But he would not reveal the names of the militants, bombers and their groups.
What is common in all these hits which took place in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Sargodha is that no militant group has (so far) formally claimed responsibility of any blast. On the other hand, in most suicide blasts in the NWFP and Tribal Areas, some militant groups claimed responsibility.
An official of the Crimes Investigation Department, an intelligence gathering and sharing unit of the Punjab police about the sectarian and terrorist organisations, told Dawn that although a team of the CID was working on different leads in the latest incident at Iqbal Town, there was so far no breakthrough in identification of suicide bomber and his militant group.
“It is not easy to identify a specific group as suicide attacks in Punjab have occurred without any formal claim,” he said. The official further said there was no record found by Nadra about the suicide bombers.
“Fingers and thumbs of the bombers collected from the crime scene are sent to Nadra for identification on each blast, but there is no match found,” he said, adding that their DNA tests too had not helped a great deal.
A high-ranking official of the Punjab police, asking not to be named, told Dawn that all the incidents of suicide blasts which took place in Punjab since last year had been traced.
“The bombers and their accomplices have close links with Baitullah Mehsud and his sub-group leaders like Kali Zafar, Maulvi Rabbani and others who all belonged to Wazirsitan,” he said.
A senior official of the capital city police of Lahore, who has also served in one of the intelligence agencies, said the militant groups struck as splinter groups which made it difficult for the law-enforcement agencies to identity any specific group. He claimed that the suicide blast of GPO Chowk and Naval War College were linked to a same militant group which operates in Waziristan (NWFP).
“There is no unified command of these groups and they strike after forming splinter groups,” he said. Another city police officer claimed that two suicide bombers, who blew themselves up in two of the five blasts in Lahore, were identified to the extent that they were foreigners. “But their identity can’t be substantiated. The militants involved in the dastardly act usually avoid having their identity cards in the NWFP and even in Punjab.”
According to him, the law-enforcement agencies traced the identity of the suicide bomber of Sargodha PAF bus attack. A seminary student, he belonged to Rahim Yar Khan.
An ex-official of the investigation wing, Lahore, believed that the ATBs (Afghan-trained boys) were used as suicide bombers who are scattered all over the country.