Monday April 22, 2024

Security advisory: Saudi Arabia, Australia ask citizens in Pakistan to limit movement

Security alert comes after US embassy stopped staff from visiting federal capital’s Marriott Hotel over fears of an attack

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
December 27, 2022
A representational image of Islamabad police. — AFP/File
A representational image of Islamabad police. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of recent terror incidents in the country, the Saudi embassy has issued a security alert for its citizens in Pakistan, advising them to remain careful and limit their movement.

The alert has come on Monday here a day after the US embassy stopped its staff from visiting federal capital’s Marriott Hotel due to fears of an attack.

The Australian High Commissioner also said officials in Islamabad had been advised to increase vigilance and limit travel within the city.

“You should exercise heightened vigilance and monitor the media for latest updates,” Neil Hawkins said on Twitter as reported by Arab News.

A few other embassies have also advised their staff and citizens to restrict their movement for some time during the ongoing holidays, particularly until Jan 1.

Earlier, Islamabad Police beefed up security to high alert in the capital with an enhanced checking at all entry and exit points. They also requested the public to cooperate during inspections. The Saudi security alert advised to Saudi citizens planning to travel to Pakistan and those in the country asking them to be cautious and not venture out except for any necessity.

“The security of Islamabad has been placed at the highest level,” stated the advisory, adding that Saudis should contact the embassy and consulate if the need arose.

The advisories were issued in the wake of a suicide bombing in the federal capital on Friday, which claimed the lives of a cop and a taxi driver.

According to the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), it was the first suicide attack in the capital since 2014. As many as 165 people had lost their lives while over 600 were injured in 18 suicide attacks in the capital from 2005 to 2014.

The last suicide attack took place in March 2014, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Judicial Complex at F-8 sector.

Cumulatively, the country has experienced 504 suicide attacks over the last 22 years, causing 6,748 deaths and 15,111 injuries.

The US embassy through an alert uploaded on its website on Sunday, prohibited all its government employees visiting the Marriott Hotel.

“The US government is aware of information that unknown individuals are possibly plotting to attack Americans at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad sometime during the holidays. Effective immediately, the embassy in Islamabad is prohibiting all American staff from visiting Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel, said the advisory issued by the US embassy.

“Furthermore, as Islamabad has been placed on a red alert citing security concerns while banning all public gatherings, the embassy is urging all mission personnel to refrain from non-essential, unofficial travel in Islamabad throughout the holiday season,” the embassy stated.

It advised embassy personnel to exercise vigilance at events, places of worship, and to avoid places with large crowds. “Review personal security plans, carry identification and follow requests from law enforcement, be aware of surroundings and monitor local media for updates,” read the advisory.