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Delhi's 2010 Commonwealth Games dogged by terrorism threats, poor organization

The 2010 Commonwealth Games in India next month were supposed to highlight Delhi's development, but attacks on tourists and infrastructure woes may have hurt the country's image.

By Mian RidgeCorrespondent / September 20, 2010

An Indian police officer checks the bags of a tourist at the entrance of the Jama Masjid, one of India's biggest mosques in New Delhi, India, Monday. Police increased patrols across New Delhi on Monday, one day after the drive-by shootings of two foreign tourists.

Anupam Nath/AP

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New Delhi

Delhi authorities today announced a raft of new security measures after the drive-by shootings of two foreign tourists in India’s capital Sunday. But amid mounting concern about setbacks to hosting the much-awaited Commonwealth Games, such steps are unlikely to allay fears that Delhi will be vulnerable to terrorist attacks next month.

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“Terrorist groups will try to launch attacks on the games, no question,” says Ajay Sahni, executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management in New Delhi. “The question is, will they succeed?”

On Sunday morning, two gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on tourists near the Jamma Masjid, a red sandstone mosque that is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, injuring two Taiwanese men.

Hours later, an Islamist group believed to have links with the banned Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba claimed responsibility for the attack. Another Islamist group, the Indian Mujahideen, also claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombings in an e-mail to media organizations. In 2008, the Indian Mujahideen carried out coordinated attacks on Delhi, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad that killed at least 150 people. It is suspected of being a shadow outfit for Lashkar-e-Taiba.

"We know preparations for the games are at their peak," their e-mail reportedly said. "Beware, we too are preparing in full swing for a great surprise."

The government sought to downplay the threat of Islamic terrorism by suggesting the attackers could have been violent local criminals. It also announced new security measures for the city, among them that no vehicles will be allowed to park within 100 meters of 470 ''sensitive sites.” Games venues, including the athletes' village, are already surrounded by heavy security.

Security to shoddy construction

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