Pakistan goes on high alert amid potential terrorist attacks


ISLAMABAD: Pakistani security forces scoured the Margalla hills surrounding the capital Islamabad and sent additional units to protect key installations on Monday amid tightened security across the country.

The beefed up security follows on the heels of intelligence reports by the country’s spy agencies which have warned against potential militant attacks on headquarters of Pakistan Navy, Airforce and on the Parliament House, says a report published on BBC Urdu website.

The report pointed out a recorded conversation of a Pakistani Taliban commander, mentioned as Waleed bin Talib, in which Talib was talking about achieving bigger goals than the Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak. He was quoted as saying that an action is required where all the ‘high-ups’ sit in ‘big houses.’

Sources in the interior ministry interpreted the message saying the Parliament House and headquarters of Pakistan Navy and Airforce could be the potential targets of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

A global security alert has also been issued by the United States which closed more than a dozen embassies in the Middle East and Africa following an al Qaeda threat.

“We have beefed up security in Islamabad, particularly at the Faisal Mosque since there is a security threat,” Mohammad Rizwan, a senior police officer, told Reuters. “We have also combed the Margalla Hills, setting up pickets at certain points.”

It was unclear whether police were hunting a specific target or whether the increased security was a reaction to the jailbreak at the Dera Ismail Khan central prison last week in which more than 250 prisoners were freed in a militant attack.

“We have also learnt that the prisoners, released as a result of D I Khan jailbreak, can be used in the attack,” a senior police official had told Dawn on Sunday.

“They can target some buildings on Constitution Avenue, airport and armed forces installation, embassies and other offices run by international organisations,” he said, adding that some “important personalities” were on the hit list.

Earlier on Saturday, the law enforcement agencies had stepped up their surveillance of Benazir Bhutto International Airport and Adiala jail, following on intelligence reports of possible attacks on these installations.

Meanwhile, security officials told foreign news agency AFP that authorities were investigating possible al Qaeda involvement in the D I Khan jailbreak.

“Involvement of al Qaeda is one the factors that we cannot rule out at the moment,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

He said: “such attacks are always carried out with involvement of two type of groups, one which plans and the other which executes”.

The Dera Ismail Khan breakout came a week after militants stormed two prisons in Iraq, freeing at least 500 inmates including senior al Qaeda leaders.

“Jailbreak is something that requires a lot of planning and is not an easy task. Now we have to determine who were the planners, facilitators and operators”, said the official.

Arund 300 prisoners at the D I Khan central jail were being held in connection with attacks on security forces and sectarian killings.

“One thing is very clear: that all those who took part in the jailbreak were highly trained and the pattern of the attack shows they had come for the attack with proper planning,” another security official said.

A senior government official in Peshawar, the main city in the northwest, told AFP: “Apparently the plan was prepared in Waziristan tribal district and preliminary information suggests that al Qaeda helped in preparing the jailbreak plan.”

“However, we are working on it and a final report will be prepared soon”.

Sources by: Dawn News