US warns of Al Qaeda attack, Govt. terms it 'innocuous'
PTI | August 11, 2006
New Delhi -- The US today warned of attacks here and in Mumbai by "foreign terrorists" including Al Qaeda around the Independence Day but the government termed the warning as "very innocuous" and said it had taken all security measures to thwart such strikes.
In an advisory to its citizens in India, the US Embassy here said it had learnt that terrorists including Al Qaeda members "allegedly intend" to carry out serial bomb attacks from today till August 16 and the likely targets are major airports, key government offices and crowded places, including hotels and markets, in the two cities.
The warning, which came a day after a terror plot targeting airliners was foiled in Britain and amidst heightened security across India ahead of Independence Day, asked US citizens to maintain a low profile and be "especially alert".
Reacting to the warning, Union Home Secretary V K described it as "very innocuous" and asserted every possible measure has been put in place to thwart attempts by militant groups to unleash terror ahead of or during Independence Day. "It is normal for a mission to issue advisories whenever they have information. We too do the same thing. They do their security bandobast based on that. It is a very innocuous advisory," he told reporters.
Duggal, however, refrained from commenting on the presence of foreign terrorists in the country. He repeatedly ducked questions whether there was any presence of Al Qaeda in the country. "I have only seen the advisory and there is no intelligence input shared with us."
Intelligence sources were skeptical about the warning, saying there has been no evidence so far of Al Qaeda's presence in the country.
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told reporters the government had received no formal communication from the US about possible terror attacks in the country. "We have no formal communication yet," he said.
Security has been hightened across the country after the July 11 bombings in Mumbai and in view of Independence Day.
Further security measures were put in place around important installations including airports after the foiled terror plot in Britain.
A contingent of 38 personnel of the National Security Guard has been deployed at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam near Chennai following reports that atomic installations could be targeted by terrorists. The US mission's advisory said, "The Embassy has learnt that foreign terrorists, possibly including Al Qaeda, allegedly intend to carry out a series of bombing attacks in and around New Delhi and Mumbai in the days leading up to India's Independence Day on August 15, 2006.
"Likely targets are major airports, key central Indian government offices and major gathering places such as hotels and markets," it said. Duggal said appropriate action was taken by the government on the basis on inputs received from various agencies and sources. He said everything required was being done.
Police last night arrested at New Delhi railway station two terrorists of Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba, which is believed to be working with Al Qaeda. One of the terrorists was a Pakistani national.