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Airports on alert after hijack threat

The alert is sounded following reports of threats from terrorist groups like JeM and LeT, reports Vijaita Singh.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 20:56 IST
Vijaita Singh
Vijaita Singh

The Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi was on high alert on Wednesday after intelligence officials warned of hijack threats at all airports in metros.

The reports said terrorist organisations like the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Bangladesh based Huzai BD were likely to plan retaliatory action if Mohammad Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament attack case, did not get presidential pardon.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has particularly asked Air India officials to take precautions on flights from Karachi, Kabul, Lahore and Dhaka. There are also reports that the terrorists could sneak in through these routes to set up base in the country.

A similar alert had been sounded at the IGI airport in December first week. This is the fifth alert at airports across the country in the past two months.

The BCAS headquarters’ letter, dated January 5, 2007, says "Pakistan based groups like the JeM, LeT and the Bangladesh based Huzai BD, operating from across the border, may indulge in spectacular actions including hijacking of aircraft. Inputs also suggest that the JeM plans to create a hostage situation to get their cadres released from Indian jails."

The letter was issued to the Director General of Central Industrial Security Force, the Director Generals of Police and Inspector Generals of Police of all states, Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Chairman of Airport Authority of India, Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Air India and all airlines operating from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata airports.

The letter adds that "according to an unconfirmed report a decision to cause series of blasts if the sentence of Afzal Guru is not commuted has been taken in a meeting convened by LeT."

After the reports the frisking of baggage, both hand-held and cargo, has been intensified. The CISF has also been asked to thoroughly check all passengers through hand-held metal detectors.

Sniffer dogs have been deployed at parking lots and passenger arrival areas. The Delhi Police has also been tipped to apprehend anyone moving in a suspicious manner. Extra personnel of CISF have also been deployed at the IGI airport. "We have upgraded the security at the airport and all necessary measures are being taken following the reports," a CISF spokesman said.

The various airlines have been asked to upgrade their security measures and keep a strict vigil while passengers board or de-board flights. The airport security personnel have also been asked to intensify the security at the "approach funnel area" on the runway.

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