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India’s largest city is once again on high alert after police announced that four men believed to be members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistani militant group, snuck into the financial capital of Mumbai. The men are believed to be plotting a terror attack that will take place sometime between Christmas and the new year, reports Al Jazeera.
This is the second time in four months police have warned that alleged terrorists have entered the city and may be plotting attacks. Since the November 2008 attack in Mumbai, security has been tight in the city, but there has been much tension during the last year in particular.
While security experts say it is impossible to completely protect a city as large and sprawling as Mumbai, The New York Times reports that security throughout the city has been increased in public places, five-star hotels, and public transportation stations, especially during President Obama’s visit in November. The 2008 attack left a deep impression on India’s security mindset and strained relations with Pakistan.
Indian police have released an image of one of the alleged terrorists, Walid Jinnah. No images of the other three wanted men – Abdul Karim Mussa, Noor Abdul Ilahi, and Mafooz Alam – have yet to be released, reports India’s Daily News and Analysis.
“The four LeT members plan to carry out terror-related activities. According to our information, all of them are in the age group of 20-30 years,” said Himanshu Roy, joint police commissioner. “We have formed a special team to trace them and the police are taking major security precautions.”
Police have say they have “beefed up” security at all important public places throughout the city and are encouraging residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities. Police officials have denied that the men “evaded the security radar,” reports The Hindu. Authorities emphasis that the important point is that the men are now inside the city.
Officials have not specified if the four men came from Pakistan or Bangladesh, reports the Times of India. Police officials have also denied allegations that they are “spreading panic in the city.” After they last put the city on high alert during the Hindu holiday of Ganesh Chaturthi and the Muslim holiday of Eid, there were no terror attacks and the suspects were not apprehended. India’s Muslims have said they worry that such alerts could create tension between them and other ethnic groups.
“It might have been because of the wide publicity that the sketches got that the terrorists could not plot anything major,” said Mr. Roy, explaining why nothing may have happened after the last warning.
There have been two other major terror attacks in India this year. In Varanasi, a bomb at a Hindu temple killed one and injured several others earlier this month. Another bombing in February at a bakery in Pune left 15 dead and injured scores, reports The Wall Street Journal.