Pakistan on high alert after Taliban threat, train blast
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 06, 2013, 00:07
  
Islamabad: Pakistani police scoured hills surrounding the capital Islamabad and sent additional units to protect key installations on Monday amid tightened security ahead of a major Muslim holiday and after a bomb blast in which three people were dead and at least 14 injured on a train.

The explosion took place when the train was travelling between the southern financial hub of Karachi and the ancient city of Lahore, capital of Punjab province.

Police said a home-made bomb packed with at least eight kg of explosive material was put inside a travel bag placed in the washroom of one of the train's compartments.

Police and soldiers go on alert every year in the closing days of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with a global security alert 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."

The mosque is the largest in Pakistan and sits at the foot of the majestic Margalla Hills, the first foothills to the Himalayas.

However, it was unclear whether police were hunting a specific target or whether the increased security was a reaction to an embarrassing jail break last week in which more than 250 prisoners were freed from jail in a militant attack.

Pakistan's police are notoriously under-equipped, poorly trained and under-funded. Security forces sometimes resort to blanket bans to counter potential threats, for instance by banning motorcycles or shutting down telephone networks.

Reuters


First Published: Monday, August 05, 2013, 16:03


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