ISLAMABAD: Law enforcement agencies have identified 1,200 places, including 1,159 educational institutes, in the capital city as possible soft targets for terrorists.

A police officer, on the condition of anonymity, told Dawn that there were 1,137 private and government schools and colleges and 22 universities in the city. But with the strength of about 9,000 personnel, it was difficult for the police to arrange foolproof security for them.

Besides, he added, there were 77 markets and 14 hospitals which were also considered soft targets for terror elements. The police were already engaged in different assignments while half of its personnel were deployed on the security duty of VVIPs and VIPs.

Under such circumstances, help and support was required from the managements of institutions. They can at least make the approach of any terrorist difficult by creating hurdles, he said.

In this regard, a standard operating procedure (SOP) has been prepared by the police, which would be shared with the administrations of the educational institutions.

Schools, colleges in Islamabad told to implement police SOP before end of winter vacations

The superintendents of police of all the four zones – City, Saddar, Rural and Industrial Area – have been asked to hold meetings with the school administrations in their respective areas and brief them on the security arrangements.

In some of the schools, guards were already deployed but now it has been made mandatory for all institutions to hire armed security personnel.

Walk-through gates should also be installed at the entry points of the schools and guards should be deployed with metal detectors.

The administrations will also be asked to install CCTV cameras for surveillance of the buildings. The height of the boundary walls of all schools, colleges and universities should be raised and barbed wires fixed. The digging of trenches was also proposed around the school buildings.

The police officer said schools should also carry out evacuation drills to check their preparedness in case of any emergency. The educational institutions were also being asked to arrange reflectors to check vehicles for magnetic explosive devices.

The officer said there were intelligence reports shared by the interior ministry’s National Crisis Management Cell that suicide jackets and bombers had been moved towards Punjab, especially Rawalpindi and Islamabad, by the outlawed Taliban.

He said the terrorists might target any school or college vehicle with an improvised explosive device (IED) through a time device.

He said the police officers and SHOs concerned had been asked to ensure that each educational institution had implemented the SOP.

Currently, winter vacations have started in the schools and majority of the universities.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2014