LAHORE   -   Police and intelligence operatives raided a house in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu and arrested four suspects in connection with the deadly suicide blast outside the Data Darbar.

Security officials entered the rented house late Thursday and arrested two facilitators shortly after they traced the alleged suicide bomber to the locality. The suspects were shifted to an unknown facility for interrogation.

At least 12 people including five policemen died and 25 others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his vest outside the shrine of Ali Hajveri in Lahore on Wednesday morning.

The death toll in the bombing swelled to 12 on Friday morning as one of the injured persons expired in Mayo Hospital. The deceased was identified by police as Mudassar, a resident of Lohari Gate. The boy was trying to enter the shrine when bomber blew himself up at the main gate (No 2).

An official told The Nation that the security officials arrested a rickshaw driver who dropped the bomber and two facilitators near the shrine before the bombing. The suspects were residing in a rented house located in Daroghawala area, he said. Three months ago, they took the house on rent through a local resident Asad Abbas who was also arrested during the operation.

According to police investigators, both facilitators of the bomber were seen roaming in the Pathan Colony a few days ago. The arrests were made after police and forensic experts examined several CCTV clips collected from various locations near the shrine. Like the suicide bomber , the facilitators were also wearing black-colour Shalwar Kameez as they reached near the shrine on the day of the incident.

The official who is familiar with the development said that one of the facilitators visited the shrine of the Sufi saint a few hours before the blast. In a CCTV clip, he could be seen leaving the shrine at 6:30am on Wednesday.

A high-powered investigation team comprising police, CTD, and intelligence officials has been tasked to investigate the bombing. A source close to the joint investigation team said that the police had identified the motorcycle-rickshaw used to transport the suspected bomber to the shrine. “It was the breakthrough,” he said while referring to the rickshaw driver. The arrests were made on the information provided by the arrested rickshaw driver to the investigation team, he added.

Police sources said the suspects hired a rickshaw from a bust stop near the Lahore railway station. A CCTV clip shows the rickshaw driver approaches the bomber as appears on Garhi Shahu road.

They said three major terror groups linked to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are in the focus of the security agencies. The counterterrorism department officials are also examining the records and links of these groups with international terror network including Ghazi Force and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Hizbul Ahrar, an off shoot of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed credit for the terror attack. The Taliban suicide bombers, in recent years, attacked police force many times in Lahore.

Following the bombing, a video-clip which went viral on social media shows a teenage boy, clad in Shalwar Kameez and waistcoat, was on foot and could be seen moving towards the elite police vehicle outside the main gate (No 2) of the shrine. As the bomber approaches the police van he explodes his vest strapped to his body. Another clip shows the bomber coming towards the gate of the shrine, after crossing the main road from Minar-e-Pakistan side, where the police vehicle was parked.

According to the FIR, two facilitators were accompanying the bomber. After handshake, they said goodbye to the terrorist and then disappeared in the narrow streets adjacent to the shrine. The FIR was registered with the Lahore CTD police under section 302/324, 186/353, 427/34, 120-B/109 of the PPC, ESA ¾, and Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997. The FIR was lodged on the complaint of an inspector of the CTD police.

Meanwhile, the provincial home department on Friday notified a five-member joint investigation team to probe the deadly bombing. The JIT will be headed by SP (CTD) Sohaib Ashraf while representatives from intelligence agencies including IB, ISI, and MI are also part of the team.