Airports on high alert after fears of a further attack
AIRPORTS in India were on high alert yesterday following warnings of a new terrorist attack.
The threat of an airborne attack focused on three major airports – New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai – but security was stepped up across the country. No further details were released.
"This is a warning. We are prepared as usual," India's air force chief, Fali Homi Major, said.
Heavily armed guards from India's Rapid Deployment Force manned roadblocks outside airports, while others patrolled inside the buildings among passengers.
Several extra layers of security were set up and some passengers had bags scanned before entering terminals.
Meanwhile, officials continued to investigate last week's Mumbai attacks and said the surviving gunman may be dosed with a controversial truth drug to force him into giving information.
Evidence collected so far has pointed to two members of outlawed Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba as masterminds behind the killings.
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Yusuf Muzammil are believed to be hiding in Pakistan. Lakhvi was identified as the group's operations chief and Muzammil as operations chief in Kashmir and other parts of India.
The surviving gunman, Ajmal Amir Kasab, 21, this week told police Lakhvi recruited him for the operation, and the assailants called Muzammil on a satellite phone after hijacking an Indian vessel en route to Mumbai.
During the attacks, he said, the gunmen used mobile phones taken from hotel guests to place calls to Lahore, in Pakistan.
Police officers said they are still trying to get as much detail as possible from Kasab.
"A terrorist of this sort is never co-operative. We have to extract information," said Deven Bharti, the head of the Mumbai crime branch.
Indian police use interrogation methods that would be regarded as torture in the West, including questioning suspects drugged with "truth serum".
Mr Bharti provided no details on interrogation techniques, but said "truth serum" would probably be used next week.
Meanwhile, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari promised visiting US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that he would take "strong action" against any groups involved in the massacre.
"I have found a Pakistani government that is focused on the threat and understands its responsibilities to respond to terrorism and extremism," Dr Rice said after meeting Mr Zardari. The attack killed 171 people, including six Americans and one British national.
Dr Rice added: "This was a terrible attack. It was a sophisticated attack, a level of sophistication that we haven't seen here on the subcontinent before. That means that there is urgency to getting to the bottom of it. There is urgency to bringing the perpetrators to justice and there is urgency to ... disrupt and prevent further attacks."
Last week's attacks were carried out by 10 suspected Muslim militants against hotels, a restaurant and other sites in Mumbai.
Government security forces have come under intense criticism that they missed warnings and bungled their response to the attacks which took place from 26-29 November.
Yesterday, police said an unexploded hand grenade was found outside a hospital that was the scene of an attack during last week's siege on the city.
The discovery came a day after police detected two bombs at Mumbai's main train station, nearly a week after they were left there by the attackers.
It was not clear why the bags at the station were not examined earlier. The station, which serves hundreds of thousands of commuters, was declared safe and reopened hours after the attack.
And fallout from the attacks widened as the chief minister of Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located, stepped down. The country's top law enforcement official resigned last week.
"I regret that we could not have saved more lives, that regret will remain with me," the minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, said.
ALTHOUGH extra measures were set up at Indian airports yesterday following the threat of "airborne attacks", security levels are still erratic in Mumbai more than a week after the terrorist atrocities there.
There were armed guards at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, the main railway station that was attacked last week. But commuters could be seen rushing through scanners unopposed, even when alarms flashed "Stop".
Policemen carrying guns and accompanied by sniffer dogs cursorily checked bags at random.
At other stations, some policemen in flak jackets were reading newspapers or drinking tea during the morning rush hour, while the police presence on the roads was visibly reduced.
"We Indians tend to think God will protect us," said Pramoud Rao, the Mumbai president of the Fire and Safety Association of India.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West