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RAWALPINDI: Security has been heightened in the garrison city over growing concerns of a terror threat after a suicide bombing in Lahore on Wednesday.

Inspector General of Punjab Police (IGP) Arif Nawaz Khan went into a session with divisional police chiefs across the province after the attack through video link.

Regional Police Officer (RPO) Ahmad Ishaq Jahangir told Dawn that the police were already on high alert due to Ramazan although there is no specific terror threat. Security has now been increased to a “top-level alert” in the wake of the Lahore bombing.

He said that the IGP ordered for standard operating procedures to be reviewed during the video conference, particularly for the police and Elite Force unit. He said that as part of the increased security measures, all senior and low-ranking police officials will patrol busy markets, as well as around mosques, imambargahs and other places of worship.

“Police at senior and junior levels will be checked mosques, imambargahs, markets and Ramazan bazaars,” he said, adding that police office staff has been reduced to meet the shortage of patrolling personnel.

The police are also being assisted by the Special Branch and other intelligence agencies to maintain peace and keep an eye on antisocial elements, he said. The checking system is being strengthened in the city as well.

The IGP also directed for police to ensure security for Chinese nationals working on development projects and for vulnerably areas.

When asked if there were any specific terror threats for Rawalpindi, the PO said there were not but the police were taking all possible measures to maintain peace and assure people that the police are on alert.

He said the Elite Force command has also been directed to take all possible measures for their own security and refresh the SOP for security in the wake of the Lahore bombing.

The RPO also visited the Ramazan Bazaar in Gulzar-i-Quaid on Wednesday and reviewed security there.

Islamabad

The police have increased security around shrines in sensitive parts of the city and begun special checks at Islamabad’s points of entry and exit after the bombing outside Data Darbar.

IGP Islamabad Mohammad Aamir Zulfiqar reviewed security arrangements in the city and directed Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) (DIG) Waqaruddin Syed to increase security at sensitive locations, important buildings, offices, places of worship and shrines, the police said.

Additional personnel have been deployed at shrines in Bari Imam and Golra Sharif, they said. Irrelevant individuals have also been prohibited from entering the Red Zone while vigilance is being maintained at police pickets.

Comprehensive security arrangements have been ensured at various buildings, including the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court. Police said commando vehicles and Falcon and Eagle squads have been asked to be vigilant and patrol their assigned areas.

The DIG directed for special deployments of security officials at places of worship in the capital, including mosques and imambargahs. He directed superintendents of police to supervise these arrangements while sub-divisional police officers (SDPO) and station house officers (SHO) a have been asked to conduct security checks during prayer timings.

Special police strength has been called from Police Lines and provided to police stations to ensure effective security duties at places of worship and markets, they said. Professional alms-seekers will also be stopped from gathering outside places of worship.

Police officials have been directed to carry out special checking at hotels, motels, inns and guesthouses as well.

DIG Syed has ordered for security arrangements during Ramazan to be complied with. SDPOs and SHOs have been directed to personally supervise security arrangements and ensure police officials or private security guards are deployed where necessary.

He has directed police officials to brief personnel deputed for security purposes, and appealed to citizens to inform the police or Rescue 15 in case of suspicious activity.

He also directed for commandos to be deployed in markets, and heads of police stations have been told to check the duties of police assigned various beats.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2019