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Security measures at Pindi railway station enhanced

Security measures at Pindi railway station enhanced

RAWALPINDI/ ISLAMABAD: Security measures were enhanced around the Rawalpindi Railway Station after the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) informed railway authorities that a terror group had threatened to carry out attacks on the Rawalpindi and Lahore railway stations during the first week of this month.

Cellular services were suspended around a 10 kilometre radius around the station due to the terror threats and in some parts of Islamabad due to preparations for National Defence Day events.

Cellular service around the railway station will remain suspended till Tuesday evening, according to a spokesperson for the Railway police.

The Rawalpindi Railway Station was fenced in with barbed wire, well equipped army personnel were deployed at the entrances and sniper posts were installed at pedestrian bridges.

A spokesperson for the Railway police said the pedestrian bridge linking Saddar with Ratta Amral will be temporarily closed to the public as police commandoes are deployed on other bridges on the station premises.

The enhanced security measures were installed after threats of an attack with an explosive laden vehicle or a Mumbai style attack were made by a terror organisation, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Railway Asmat Ullah Junejo told Dawn.

The SSP said parking stands at the railway station were evacuated and fenced in with barbed wire and that all entry points except two main entrances were closed. He said every one entering the station was to be body searched.

He added that serious threats had been made against other sensitive government buildings in the garrison city as well.

“We cannot take chances and we are taking all possible measures for ensuring the railway station and other sensitive buildings are secure and protected,” he said, adding that Elite Force commandoes have also been called in to assist in ensuring the safety of the public.

According to another police official, security measures were also tightened in the Cantonment areas after the terror threats were made. He said well equipped army personnel were deployed to patrol around sensitive government buildings.

According to railway authorities and the police, the train services will not be suspended on Tuesday, though the metro bus service will be suspended on September 6 due to the National Defence Day Celebrations.

Due to the celebrations and rehearsals for them, residents of some parts of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were left without cellular reception as signals were suspended and services may also be suspended on Tuesday.

Text messages sent by cellular service providers said that as per directions from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) service will be suspended from 4pm to 11 pm on September 5 in the General Headquarters (GHQ) and its surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, messages by internet service providers said that according to PTA directions, internet service may be unavailable due to security reasons till 11pm on Monday and from 4pm to 11pm on Tuesday.

Every year on Defence Day, the chief of army staff gives a speech, the guard of honour is given and war heroes are remembered. Military hardware is also displayed at various areas including Dhamial Airbase, Noor Khan Airbase and others.

The suspension of cellular services has also become routine on Defence Day and other national holidays.

However, other than national holidays, residents of the federal capital are also inconvenienced with suspension of cellular signals during other events. During March this year, cellular signals were suspended to stop Maulana Abdul Aziz from delivering his sermon at the Lal Masjid via phone calls.

A resident of the federal capital, Naeem Sheikh said the government should not suspend cellular signals as it disturbs daily routine.

“Parents cannot call their children to ensure they are safe, nor can one make calls during emergencies and it also disrupts work,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2016

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