ISLAMABAD (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it has received information on possible terrorist attacks in the Pakistani capital in late December, warning Americans to avoid busy public places during the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
"Possible targets include places of worship and shopping centers," the US embassy said in a statement, without giving specifics of the information that led it to issue the warning on Friday.
Pakistani police and other officials were not available Saturday to comment on the warning. However, a Pakistani intelligence official said there is a "general threat perception" but no specific threats. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
American citizens should "minimize the number and duration of trips" to crowded places such as markets, restaurants, hotels and places of worship and other locations where large numbers of people congregate, the warning said. American government personnel are under additional movement restrictions in coming weeks, including religious venues and large shopping centers.
In August, the U.S. State Department warned Americans against all non-essential travel to Pakistan, citing the threat of foreign and domestic terrorist groups operating throughout the country.
In July this year, gunmen shot and killed a local employee of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. Iqbal Baig was working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Also Saturday, authorities in Karachi said they arrested four suspects in the massacre of over 50 minority Shiites on a bus in May.
The four allegedly provided financial support to the perpetrators of the attack on members of the Ismaili Shiite branch, said Raja Umar Khattab, head of the city's counterterrorism department. One of the suspects, Adil Masood Butt, studied at Indiana University and New York's Fordham University from the mid-1980s to 1992, he said.
The suspected mastermind and several gunmen involved in the assault were previously arrested.