‘Breakthrough’ as owner of car used in Lahore blast held

June 25, 2021: As the investigation into Wednesday’s bombing progressed, law enforcement agencies arrested a foreign national from Lahore Airport.

The suspect, identified as Peter Paul David, was offloaded from a flight to Karachi and transferred to an unknown location for questioning. He was reportedly the owner of a car used in the blast near the residence of Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamat al-Dawa chief on Wednesday, in which three people were killed and 24 injured. The LEA was also searching for another suspect, who is said to have targeted law enforcement officers with a car packed with explosives.

The identity of the arrested accused and details about him are being withheld. David’s travel history shows that he often did shuttles between Karachi, Lahore and Dubai, while he could not satisfy investigators about the purpose of these trips and his activities. After the car was stolen from Gujranwala in 2010, the car used in the blast was sold several times and according to the preliminary investigation, David was its last owner.

The bombing near the JUD chief’s residence has sparked debate over the intelligence failure of the anti-terrorism department. CTD chief Wasim Sial was also criticized at a high-level meeting on Thursday when it came to light that terrorists had manufactured a car packed with explosives in Lahore and used it to house a high-value target in Johar Town.

The CTD housed an intelligence wing to detect terrorist networks and counter and pre-empt their activities. An official said intelligence agencies traced the location of the owner of the car through its registration record obtained from the excise department, and then arrested David from the Lahore airport. Quoting initial investigations, the official said the car entered Lahore from Babu Sabu interchange a few hours before the blast where police personnel cleared the vehicle and the driver after checking.

He added that there were conflicting reports about whether it was carrying explosives at the time or not. However, there was a strong possibility that it was fitted with explosives inside Lahore and then driven to Johar Town.

CCTV footage showed a masked suspect parking the car at the corner of a street near the residence of the JuD chief around 10:40am on Wednesday. He got out of the car and then disappeared, the official said, adding that the blast occurred around 11:10am. Reportedly, the suspect had carried out the blast with a timed-device.

Footage later showed that the driver was picked up from a petrol pump nearby by an accomplice in a car and they drove off, the official said.

He added that during the interrogation, David denied involvement in the blast. He told investigators that during his last visit to Dubai, a friend told him that someone he knew in Gujranwala needed his (David’s) car for a few days. When he returned to Pakistan, he turned the car over to a masked man in Gujranwala, David said, adding that he thought the man was wearing a mask because of the code.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed claimed that Punjab police was close to arresting the culprits responsible for Wednesday’s blast in Lahore. In a video statement posted on Twitter on Thursday, the minister claimed that officials had achieved “great success” during the investigation. “Punjab police will soon arrest the culprits and bring good news to the people,” he said.

He remarked Pakistan’s enemies could not tolerate the economic and political stability in the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and had started adopting “terrorist routes”.

He said elements that wanted to spread chaos in the country would fail, as Pakistan “will never succumb to any pressure”.

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