Terrorism concerns rise around Commonwealth Games in Delhi

Britain and Australia issued travel warnings on visiting the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi, after two Taiwanese tourists were shot Sunday.

By , Correspondent

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    Indian police officers stand guard at a police check point in the central Connaught Place area of New Delhi, India, Monday, Sept. 20. Police said they have increased patrols across New Delhi a day after unidentified gunmen shot and wounded two tourists, raising concerns about security less than two weeks before an international sporting event in the Indian capital.
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A driveby shooting Sunday in Delhi injured two Taiwanese tourists, putting the capital and Mumbai on red alert and also raising concerns about terrorist attacks during the 72-nation Commonwealth Games next month.

The attack took place outside the Jama Masjid, Delhi's primary mosque, on Sunday when a pair of men on a motorcycle opened fire at a tourist bus, injuring two Taiwanese nationals, reports CNN. One remains in critical condition, while the other is expected to be discharged from the hospital soon.

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Some three hours after the attack, a car exploded in the same area, apparently due to a bomb made from a pressure cooker, reports The Asian Age. The bomb caused no injuries. It remains unclear whether the bomb was connected to the shooting.

Bloomberg reports that local police say the attack was the work of a "criminal gang" rather than terrorists, though no arrests have yet been made.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper said, "There is no evidence to suggest the Games were a target," reports the Australian Associated Press. "As of now, there is no clear motive for the attack and certainly no confirmation that it had any connection with the Commonwealth Games," Mr. Hooper said.

But the United States, Britain, and Australia, one of the participants in the upcoming games, all issued a travel warnings Monday.

“Australians in New Delhi should be aware that the Commonwealth Games will be held in a security environment where there is a high risk of terrorism," read the Australian Government's alert (read the full travel warning here).

The British High Commission in Delhi said, according to the Times of India, "There is a high threat from terrorism throughout India. Terrorists have targeted places in the past which Westerners are known to visit, including public places such as restaurants, hotels, railway stations, markets and places of worship."

The US Embassy in Delhi issues this alert today, which reiterated a similar travel warning released by the US State Department Sept. 1.

BBC News reports that its BBC Hindi branch received a terrorist threat against the Commonwealth Games from the Indian mujahideen, a native terrorist group responsible for a string of bombings in India. The group's statement threatened attacks against the games in response to the recent killings of Muslims in Kashmir.

"On the one hand, Muslim blood is flowing like water while on the other hand you are preparing for the festival of Games," it read.

The statement made no reference to Sunday's attack, but AFP quoted another it had received from the same group saying it had carried out the shootings. It repeated the threat to the Games.

But Agence France-Presse gives reason to doubt that Islamic terrorists were responsible for Sunday's attack, which seemed to target the Jama Masjid mosque.

Observers said Islamists were unlikely to attack India's most famous Muslim place of worship. The imam of the 17th-century Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, told AFP the attackers had shot directly at the mosque.

Some speculated that the attack may have been the work of Hindu zealots ahead of a court ruling Friday on a disputed religious site.

The spectre of terrorism is just the latest problem haunting the Commonwealth Games. The Christian Science Monitor last month reported that the Games have been beset by allegations of corruption and poor infrastructure. India had hoped that its hosting of the games, the third-largest multisport event after the Olympics and the Asian Games, would showcase the nation as "a new economic player on the world stage."

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