The US embassy in Islamabad on Sunday prohibited its staff from visiting the city’s Marriott Hotel due to concerns of a “possible attack”.
A security alert issued by the embassy said the US government was “aware of information that unknown individuals are possibly plotting to attack Americans at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad sometime during the holidays”.
The embassy also urged all its personnel to refrain from “non-essential, unofficial travel in Islamabad throughout the holiday season” due to the red alert declared in the city and the ban on public gatherings.
The embassy advised its staff to exercise vigilance at events, places of worship, and avoid locations with large crowds; review their personal security plans; carry identification and follow requests from law enforcement; be aware of their surroundings and monitor local media for updates.
Dawn.com has reached out to the Foreign Office and interior ministry for comment.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad police raised security to high alert in the capital.
The police said that checking was increased at all entry and exit points and requested people to cooperate with inspections.
The prohibition comes two days after a suicide bombing in the capital killed a policeman and wounded six others.
The capital administration had subsequently banned all types of gatherings, especially activities related to the upcoming local government elections, for two weeks and declared a high alert in the city for 48 hours.
In 2008, 60 people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with 600 kilogrammes of high explosives into the outer gates of the five-star Marriott Hotel. The attack destroyed part of the hotel which was then shut down and opened a few months later surrounded by a massive, bomb-proof wall.
Pakistan is facing the growing threat of terrorism, including incidents involving elements and groups said to be operating from Afghanistan since the militant Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan called off its ceasefire with the government in late November.
Additional reporting by Shakeel Qarar.