Terror threats prompt security alert in Islamabad (Second Lead)

April 10th, 2009 - 5:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 10 (IANS) Security was tightened in this Pakistani capital Friday following threats from terrorists that they would target parliament and international schools, prompting the US embassy here to suspend consular services for the day.
“The intelligence agencies, in their report, informed the government about the planning and activities of a terrorist outfit, warning of attack on international chains of schools, especially British and American, and the Parliament House,” The News reported, quoting sources in the interior ministry.

The move comes two days after large numbers of Taliban fighters moved to within 100 km of Islamabad and even threatened to overrun the federal capital.

The US embassy here suspended consular services Friday due to “heightened security”, an official said.

However, US consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar will remain open, Dawn quoted a spokesperson as saying.

While regular consular services, such as visa processing for Pakistani nationals, won’t be available in the capital Friday, the embassy will provide emergency services to Americans, he said.

Large contingents of police were deployed around the Parliament House here. The Red Zone around the Parliament House, the Aiwan-e-Sadr and the Prime Minister House, diplomatic enclave and other sensitive buildings along Constitution Avenue were being heavily guarded to thwart any terror attack.

The intelligence agencies were supervising the security arrangements of the Red Zone and its surrounding areas, while the marked area was virtually sealed.

“Law enforcement agencies have taken all precautionary and pre-emptive measures to avert troublesome incidents,” Superintendent of Police (East) Saqib Sultan told The News.

No private vehicle was being allowed into the Red Zone, while bomb disposal squads and fire-fighting teams were on also on hand.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Asadullah Faiz held a meeting with representatives of schools, particularly private institutions, on increasing their security, his office said.

It was decided at the meeting that the managements of academic institutions would install walk-through gates and CCTV cameras at the entry and exit points. The traffic police would also regulate traffic around academic institutions.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Rana Akbar Hayat was tasked with visiting all schools to check security measures and to arrange for random combing and sweeping of school areas along with the police.

On Wednesday, a large group of Taliban fighters had moved into the Buner area, an otherwise peaceful district just 100 km northwest of Islamabad, despite local elders asking them to stay out, sparking fears that they could next move on to the federal capital.

“The day is not far when Islamabad will be in the hands of the Mujahideen,” Taliban commander Mullah Nazeer Ahmed was Thursday quoted as saying.

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