Security on ‘high alert’ after last week’s suicide bombing in Pakistani capital
ISLAMABAD: Police in Islamabad said on Monday that authorities had stepped up security in the Pakistani capital, deploying more troops to sensitive areas and stepping up patrols across the city following last week’s suicide bombings, a police officer and a taxi driver killed.
A powerful car bomb detonated in a residential area of Islamabad on Friday, sparking fears that militants have established a stronghold in one of the safest cities in the country.
The Pakistani Taliban have stepped up attacks on security forces since November, when they unilaterally ended a months-long ceasefire with the country’s government.
On Monday, police said they had received intelligence reports that militants may be trying to hit “high-value” targets in the capital.
“We have put our security on high alert in response to any terrorist threat,” Islamabad police spokesman Taqi Jawad told Arab News. “We are currently unable to identify any specific terrorist threat, but we are prepared to respond to any situation.”
Jawad said Islamabad police had stepped up checks at all entrances and exits in the city’s red zone, which houses important government buildings, including the parliament building, the Supreme Court, the prime minister’s office and the presidential palace. The red zone also leads to diplomatic enclaves where important embassies and ambassadors’ residences are located.
“Citizens are advised to carry their ID cards when traveling and to cooperate with security personnel at checkpoints,” the spokesman said, adding that police would avoid causing any “unnecessary panic” among the public but would remain vigilant.
Jawad said more troops had been appointed in the city and patrols had been stepped up.
On Sunday, the U.S. embassy in Islamabad instructed its staff not to go to a top hotel in the capital amid fears of a terrorist attack.
“The U.S. government has received information that unknown individuals may have conspired to attack Americans at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad sometime during the holidays,” the embassy said in a statement.
“Effective immediately, the Embassy in Islamabad prohibits all US staff members from visiting the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.”
An Islamabad police spokesman declined to comment on the embassy’s security alert, saying: “We should not focus on speculation, but trust that the security personnel are capable of foiling all the nefarious plans of our detractors.”