News Column

Taliban Threat Puts Pakistan on High Alert

August 5, 2013

Pakistan was on high alert on Monday after a warning by intelligence agencies that homegrown Taliban might be planning the "biggest ever" attack in major cities, officials said.

Prisons, airports, top political leaders, Western embassies and military installations were the likely targets, officials told dpa, days after Islamist militants staged a jailbreak in a north-western city to free Taliban detainees.

Elite commandos from anti-terror police were combing the Margalla Hills overlooking the capital Islamabad, fearing the thickly forested mountains could provide militants with a launch pad for attacks on the city.

"Our men are searching through the hills," said Sikandar Hayat, Islamabad police chief. "We have a very specific threat."

He said militants were planning to attack "sensitive buildings" on

Constitutional Avenue, the city's main boulevard.

The Presidential Palace, the prime minister's secretariat and residence and a fortified walled enclave housing embassies are located on the road in the foothills of Margalla.

Hayat said militants wanted to attack some "high-value" targets but did not say if the president or the prime minister were among them.

"We are on red alert for an indefinite period. It is the highest level of security," the police chief said amid a global warning of possible al-Qaeda attacks.

Authorities in the southern province of Sindh called in commandos from a paramilitary force to secure jails in Hyderabad and Sukkur towns, said one official who declined to be named.

Paramilitary rangers were deployed to reinforce police at the airport in Islamabad after intelligence agencies discovered a Taliban plot to storm the facility in a commando-style assault and blow up planes.

A police spokesman in Islamabad did not confirm whether anybody was arrested in a search that was launched on Sunday and was ongoing.

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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