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London terror rattles India

BOMB-DISPOSAL SQUADS and sniffer dogs. Passengers waiting for hours for stringent checks as security officials painstakingly went through every piece of hand baggage. Bottles ?of water, shampoo, cologne?and toothpaste tubes being disposed of or stowed into check-in luggage. Delayed flights. The airports in the Capital were hurtled into chaos on Friday. From Kochi to Kolkata, the scene was much the same in airports across the country.

india Updated: Aug 12, 2006 01:28 IST

Flying rules changed, US warns of Al Qaeda strikes

BOMB-DISPOSAL SQUADS and sniffer dogs. Passengers waiting for hours for stringent checks as security officials painstakingly went through every piece of hand baggage. Bottles —of water, shampoo, cologne—and toothpaste tubes being disposed of or stowed into check-in luggage. Delayed flights. The airports in the Capital were hurtled into chaos on Friday. From Kochi to Kolkata, the scene was much the same in airports across the country.

Also, the US embassy issued an advisory, asking its citizens to "maintain a low profile" and cautioning the Indian government of likely terror attacks in the run-up to Independence Day.

India, however, is treating the alert as part of its overall security precaution, terming the US caution as "general and innocuous".

A day after a mammoth terror plot was busted in the UK and with just three days to go for Independence Day, the government announced measures to "make airports in the country safe and secure". The restrictions that were earlier placed on aircraft bound for the US and the UK were extended to all flights.

Civil Aviation secretary Ajay Prasad said, "A new threat has emerged from the unearthing of the terror plot in London that liquids and gels can be used as explosives. We've taken note of this fact."

Passengers of domestic and international flights will not be allowed to carry liquids and gels in hand baggage. These will have to be put into check-in luggage or discarded. Baby food (accompanying passenger has to taste it) and medicines (prescriptions have to be produced) are allowed in hand baggage.

The alert, according to the US embassy spokesman, is “India-specific”. It was the outcome of “close cooperation” between Indian and American agencies. The intelligence came from the US embassy in India and was sufficiently credible for them to issue an advisory, he said.

The US warned that Al Qaeda and some other foreign terrorist groups might carry out attacks on high-profile targets in Delhi and in Mumbai between August 11 and 16.

The embassy said the possible targets for serial bombing attacks could be major airports and vital government installations. Home secretary V.K. Duggal said, “This is more of an internal advisory though we have taken note of it. In any case, we do sensitise all security agencies and the state police in the run up to the Independence Day.”