Pakistan arrests woman allegedly planning suicide attack against Christians

Pakistani authorities have arrested a woman suspected of having links to the Islamic State and of planning a suicide attack targeting Christians during the Easter Eve celebrations in Lahore.

(REUTERS / Faisal Mahmood)Noreen Leghari, a would-be Islamic State female suicide bomber, is seen in a video confession shown during a news conference by Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, director general of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), (R) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, April 17, 2017.

Pakistani security forces raided a location in Lahore on Saturday and arrested four suspected ISIS members including a woman named Noreen Laghari. Punjab's Counter Terrorism Department said she is a second year medical science student who came back from Syria to launch an attack against Christians in Pakistan, the Voice of America relays.

"I think the girl [Laghari] established contacts with them [IS militants] through social media," Punjab's Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told VOA. "She was apparently influenced by IS propaganda and then left her home."

In addition, Sanaullah said Laghari went to Syria to join ISIS prior to her return to Pakistan. She also reportedly told her family that she had arrived at the "Land of the Caliphate." Her family, however, said she was abducted by unknown people in February.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Laghari was working with two other men to launch a church attack on Easter. A video confession presented during a news briefing shows her describing the weapons they were planning to use for the attack, but the plan was foiled the night before, on April 14, when security forces descended on their hideout.

"They had two (explosives-filled) jackets and four hand grenades, and the jackets were to be used for an attack on some church during Easter, and I was to be the suicide bomber," Laghari is heard saying in the video confession. "But before that, on the night of April 14, the security forces raided our hideout."

Contrary to what Sanaullah said, the army's public relations director general, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said Laghari never traveled to Syria since she was apprehended in Lahore. He also revealed that authorities have rounded up 4,510 suspected militants all over the country since the army launched a crackdown in February.