Islamabad was placed under a security blanket as authorities sounded an alert on Friday, following Taliban threats to execute its “two-a-week” attacks in the country.
The American embassy temporarily suspended its visa and consular services “due to heightened security” and instructed its diplomats to avoid unnecessary movement.
All private schools were shut down as panic gripped the city. Parents were called on Friday morning and told them not to send their children to school.
Enhanced security was put in place at the presidency, Prime Minister’s house, parliament, government offices, diplomatic missions and residences of diplomats, Pakistan’s interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said on Friday.
Extra police and the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers were deployed to guard key installations, Malik told the Dawn News television channel.
Security was also tightened at the police headquarters and offices of intelligence agencies, which have been targeted by suicide bombers in the past.
Senior police officials did not give specific details about the security threats, but the developments coincided with Good Friday, a major Christian holiday ahead of Easter Sunday.
Islamabad has been the scene of deadly terrorist strikes in a recent wave of violence by Islamist militants based in the country’s volatile north-western region. Eight paramilitary troops were killed last weekend when a lone suicide bomber struck a makeshift camp on the edge of the capital’s most upmarket neighbourhood.
Authorities said they fear Islamabad could be targeted by militant groups in commando-style operations — a pattern observed in the two attacks carried out in Lahore in March.
The fresh threats followed the arrests of at least four suspected terrorists in overnight raids, The News reported.
(with agency inputs)