Pakistan to launch paramilitary crackdown in Punjab after bomb kills 70: military and government sources

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan will launch a special paramilitary crackdown in Punjab, the country’s richest and most-populous province, after an Easter Day bombing in the eastern city of Lahore killed 70 people, government and military sources told Reuters on Monday.

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

The crackdown would give paramilitary Rangers extraordinary powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects similar to those the Rangers have used for more than two years in the southern city of Karachi, said a senior security official based in Lahore.

“The technicalities are yet to be worked out. There are some legal issues also with bringing in Rangers, but the military and government are on the same page,” he told Reuters on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to share details of the plan.

One other military official and two government officials confirmed the decision on condition of anonymity.

Reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Mubasher Bukhari. Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Nick Macfie