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'Al-Qaeda planning attacks in India'

US embassy warns of strikes in Delhi and Mumbai and advises American citizens in the country to stay alert.

india Updated: Aug 12, 2006 20:17 IST

The US has warned India that a group of foreign terrorists, possibly Al-Qaeda, plans to carry out a series of terror attacks in Mumbai and the Indian capital in the run up to the Independence Day.

"We have shared intelligence on a planned terror strike by foreign terrorists, possibly including members of Al-Qaeda, who allegedly intend to carry out a series of terror attacks in Mumbai and Delhi soon," David Kennedy, spokesperson of the US embassy here, said.

These terrorists plan to target major airports, government buildings and major gathering places in Mumbai and Delhi in the run-up to Independence Day, Kennedy said.

Senior Indian intelligence bureau and home ministry officials called for an emergency meeting to evaluate the information given by the US embassy even as security was tightened at all airports and government installations especially in major metropolitan cities.

The US and India are in close touch to thwart this terror strike and will further step up its cooperation in counter-terrorism, officials said.

India and the US have an ongoing cooperation in which both sides share intelligence information on likely terrorist threats aimed at them. The two countries have set up a joint working group on counter-terrorism under which they analyse emerging contours of international terrorism and also discuss steps to strike at the source of terrorist financing and its incestuous linkage with global narcotics web.

The US embassy has already issued a "warden message" to nearly 65,000 Americans living in India who have registered with the American embassy.

Under the warden system, the US embassy issues a message alter by e-mail to all American citizens living in a foreign country in the event of a terrorist threat.

The embassy has asked the American community to maintain a low profile and be aware of their surroundings, Kennedy said.

The intelligence information on imminent terror strikes in India comes close on the heels of a foiled "Al-Qaeda plot" Thursday to blow up multiple US aircrafts departing from the Heathrow airport in London and is based on a "martyrdom tape" recovered from alleged suspects in the London suspect.

"Such a tape, as well as the scheme to strike a range of targets at various places and at roughly the same time, is an hallmark of Al-Qaeda," said a senior intelligence official.

The US has already issued its highest level 'Red' terrorism alert after the plan to blow up multiple US jets flying home from London unraveled on Thursday.

At least 24 people are now in custody in the UK - most of them said to be British-born and of Pakistani descent.