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Female Pakistani suicide bomber planned thwarted Easter attack: army

Pakistani policemen stand guard outside the hostel at Abdul Wali Khan university where students beat to death a classmate in Mardan on April 13, 2017
ABDUL MAJEED (AFP)
Pakistan has seen a surge in militant attacks this year that have dented optimism in gains made

A female would-be suicide bomber who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group had planned to carry out an attack on a church in Lahore on Easter Sunday, a Pakistan military spokesman said Monday. 

Noreen Leghari, a second year medical student, is in army custody after being captured during a raid overnight Friday that left four soldiers wounded and her male accomplice dead, army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told reporters.

A filmed confession was later shown to reporters in which Leghari, dressed in a veil, said: "We were provided equipment on April 1, including two suicide vests, four hand grenades and bullets.

"We were told to use these jackets to attack a church on Easter and I was supposed to be used as a suicide bomber."

Lahore suffered one of Pakistan's deadliest attacks on Easter Sunday 2016 -- a suicide bomb in a park that killed more than 70 people, including many children, and was claimed by the Jamaat ul Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistan has seen a surge in militant attacks this year that have dented optimism after the country appeared to be making strong gains in its decade-and-a-half long war on militancy.

But Ghafoor said that since launching a new nationwide military operation in February, the army had killed some 108 militants while 558 had been captured or surrendered -- including Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

"The former spokesman of Jamaat ul Ahrar and the Pakistani Taliban Ehsanullah Ehsan has surrendered himself to security forces. He's not the only one. We will share further details in the coming days," he said. He did not indicate when Ehsan had handed himself in or give any further details.

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