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Pakistan airports on high alert

world Updated: Sep 25, 2008 23:46 IST

All major airports in Pakistan were placed on red alert on Thursday after a telephone caller warned of a suicide bomb attack as the country continued to be on edge with threats from militants to launch strikes on US targets.

Passengers were evacuated from the capital’s Benazir Bhutto airport and the whole complex was searched as an anonymous caller threatened of a possible suicide bombing. But all flights operated as normal, officials said.

The threats of new attacks came just five days after the deadly Marriott Hotel bombing, prompting a red alert to be sounded. Simultaneously, enhanced safety measures were also taken at all airports across Pakistan.

“We have raised the security level to red alert. It was already on high alert, but after bomb threat we stepped it up,” Colonel Ashraf Faiz, Chief Security Officer, said.

The security at the entrance and the exit gates was stepped up and no visitors were allowed inside the airport.

An SMS sent to journalists in Islamabad late on Wednesday night, said the Fidayeen-e-Islam, the group that claimed responsibility for the hotel bombing, would carry out more attacks on American targets.

Chopper firing incident ‘a misunderstanding’

An incident in which Pakistani soldiers fired on helicopters with a NATO-led force on Thursday along the the border with Afghanistan was “an unfortunate misunderstanding,” said a Pentagon spokesman.

The International Security Assistance Force said its helicopters were conducting routine operations inside Afghanistan when they came under small arms fire from a Pakistani checkpoint near Tanai district, Khost province.

“It appears to be an unfortunate misunderstanding,” said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.