Pak authorities step up security in sensitive areas

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 00:30

Peshawar: An unprecedented security blanket
has been thrown over Peshawar and other sensitive areas in
Pakistan`s northwest that are at the forefront of the war on
terror to avert possible attacks during the Islamic holy month
of Muharram.

The security measures were stepped up after pro-Taliban
militants carried out several attacks, including suicide
bombings, since Muharram began on December 8.

The month has been marred by sectarian and militant
violence in recent years.

Intelligence agencies have cautioned the Awami National
Party-led coalition government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa about
possible threats to security during the holy month.

Twelve districts of the province have been declared "most
sensitive" for Muharram and 109 platoons of police, 39
platoons of the Elite Force, 41 platoons of the Frontier
Constabulary and troops of the army and Frontier Corps have
been deployed in these area.

Security forces have been placed on red alert in
sensitive districts like Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu, Tank,
Mansehra, Kohat, Mardan and Mingora and the tribal regions of
Parachinar and Orakzai.

Army`s helicopter gunships will provide cover to Shia
processions in Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu and Kohat, officials
said.

Provincial police chief Fiaz Ahmed Khan Toru told a jirga
of religious leaders that the army will be on standby to aid
the police.

The processions will pass through scanners and metal
detectors to ensure their safety, according to a senior police
official.

Over 3,000 policemen will be deployed in Peshawar alone
for the first 10 days of Muharram. In addition to this, police
guards will be deputed at all mosques and `imambargahs` or
Shia prayer halls in the city. Strict security arrangements have also been put in place
for women`s `majlis` or gatherings.

Hussainia Hall within Peshawar`s cantonment, from where
the main procession is taken out on the ninth day of Muharram,
has been sealed from all sides.
Strict restrictions have been imposed on the movement of
people and traffic for another `Alm and Zuljinah` procession
to be brought out on the tenth day of Muharram from the famous
Qissa Khwani Bazar.

The police`s Supreme Command Post at Kohati Gate in
Peshawar too is on red alert as the area is home to numerous
`imambargahs`.

The area has been sealed to all kinds of traffic and
pedestrians and people can enter there only after passing
through scanners, officials said.

Entering sensitive areas in Peshawar like the Qissa
Khwani Bazar and Kohati Gate, is not less than a Herculean
task, a passerby said.

"You have to pass through a long queue for a body search
to enter the bazaar," he said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 00:30

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