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Pakistan tightens security at all airports

/ Source: The Associated Press

Pakistan has stepped up security at all 36 of its airports after a recent escalation of violence in the frontier region bordering Afghanistan, an official said Monday.

Airports in the southwestern province of Baluchistan have been put on “red alert,” and airports in other regions have increased vigilance, an official at the Airport Security Force said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

He said the security had been increased since Nov. 3, but he declined to elaborate. It was unclear if authorities were acting on a specific threat.

Pakistan has seen a major escalation of violence in the last two weeks, following a military airstrike Oct. 30 on an Islamic boarding school in which 80 people were killed. The government claimed the dead were militants training at an al-Qaida-linked school preparing to infiltrate Afghanistan, while townspeople said almost all were local children or teenagers.

Religious militants launched attacks to avenge the deaths. On Nov. 8, a suicide bombing at an army training base in Dargai killed 42 Pakistani soldiers — an attack claimed by a previously unknown pro-Taliban group. On Nov. 10, a roadside bomb hit a pro-government militia convoy, killing nine people near the Afghan border.

The federal government ordered Pakistan’s four provinces to heighten security at all government buildings in key cities after the Dargai bombing, said Abdul Raziq Bugti, a spokesman for the Baluchistan government.

“All law enforcement departments have been put on alert,” Bugti said.