US warns its citizens in Pak against al-Qaeda attacks before Eid
By Rizwan Khatik - Fri Aug 10, 12:35 pm
Islamabad: US has cautioned its citizens in Pakistan to be careful during the upcoming Independence Day and Eid-ul-Fitr festival, saying al-Qaeda elements and militants could take advantage of the celebrations to carry out attacks.
A message posted on the website of the US Embassy in Islamabad said: “Terrorists may wish to take advantage of the upcoming Pakistan Independence Day celebrations (August 13 and 14) and Eid-ul-Fitr (approximately August 19, 20 and 21) to initiate attacks.”
The message said it was “especially important that US citizens and US Embassy personnel continue to maintain good situational awareness, avoid crowds and public places, and keep a low profile during this time”.
This message was aimed at alerting US citizens to the ”continued potential danger to US citizens posed by the presence of al Qaida, Taliban elements, and indigenous militant sectarian groups in Pakistan”.
“Threat reporting indicates these groups continue to seek opportunities to attack US Mission personnel, US citizens and other Westerners, especially at locations where they are known to congregate,” the message said.
The US Embassy asked its personnel to avoid markets and any unnecessary travel during Independence Day and Eid-ul-Fitr. It also encouraged Americans to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which will keep them up to date with important safety and security announcements.
Pakistan has witnessed a sharp increase in anti-American sentiments since the unilateral US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad in May last year.
ALEPPO: President Bashar Assad named a new prime minister yesterday to replace Syria’s most senior government defector and his forces pounded rebels in a strategic district of Aleppo.
Assad appointed Wael Halki to head the government after Riyad Hijab fled on Monday after spending only two months in the job.
Hijab’s crossing of border to Jordan dealt another blow to Assad’s authority, already shaken by the assassination last month of four of his top security officials and rebel gains in Damascus, Aleppo and swathes of rural Syria.
Assad has focused his fierce army counter-offensive on Syria’s two main cities, reasserting control over much of Damascus before taking the fight to the northern commercial hub.
Rebels fighting in the Aleppo district of Salaheddine, a southern gateway to the city, said they had been forced to fall back from some frontline positions yesterday by withering bombardment which had reduced buildings to rubble.
“There have been some withdrawals of Free Syrian Army fighters from Salaheddine,” rebel commander Abu Ali said, adding that rebels were regrouping for a counter-attack. Another combatant said at least 30 people had been killed in Salaheddine, where fighting has ebbed and flowed for two days.
Assad’s forces attacked rebels on several fronts including a neighbourhood near the airport in southeast Aleppo, several eastern districts, and a town on Aleppo’s northwestern outskirts.
Reuters journalists in Tel Rifaat watched a Syrian air force jet diving and firing rockets, causing villagers to flee in panic.
Explosions rang out and black smoke billowed from an olive grove. A truck was engulfed in flames. Six children and a crying woman fled their tiny home. One woman held the Qur’an above her head, kissing it, and another banged her head in her hands. Men emerged to stare at the sky and throw their arms up in despair.
Abu Ali, a rebel brigade commander, told Reuters in Aleppo he had rallied 400 fighters of the Amr Bin Al-Aas brigade in response to Wednesday’s army offensive in Salaheddine.
“We are here to be martyred,” he told his men before joining them — despite being confined to a wheelchair by a recent war wound — and coordinating their operations via walkie-talkie.
Though sympathetic to the rebels, Western powers, Turkey and Sunni Arab states have not intervened militarily. Russia and China have blocked United Nations action against Assad.