US Embassy Alerts Staff Amid Surging Militant Violence in Pakistan

The U.S. embassy in Pakistan warned its staff Sunday against visiting a top hotel in the capital, Islamabad, over the holidays, saying, “Unknown individuals are plotting to attack Americans.”

The warning comes amid a surge in terrorist attacks in parts of the South Asian nation, including a suicide bombing in the capital this past week that killed a police officer.

“Effective immediately, the Embassy in Islamabad is prohibiting all American staff from visiting Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel,” the U.S. diplomatic mission said in a security alert published on its website.

It urged all American personnel to refrain from “nonessential, unofficial travel” in Islamabad during the holidays, noting that Pakistani authorities have placed the city on a “Red Alert” and banned all public gatherings due to security concerns.

On Sunday, the Pakistani military confirmed the death of five troops, including an officer, in a roadside bombing in the southwestern Baluchistan province.

Separatist ethnic Baluch insurgents claimed responsibility.

Thursday’s bomb attack in Islamabad, which wounded 10 people, was claimed by the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban.

The violence prompted the administration to beef up security and increase police patrols across the city, banning political gatherings and processions.

A suicide truck bombing in September 2008 targeted the Marriott Hotel, killing 63 people and wounding more than 250 others.

The TTP, designated a global terrorist organization by the United States, has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks that killed hundreds of people — most of them security forces— in recent months in Pakistan. The group’s leadership is based in Afghanistan and so are its fighters.

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