Thursday, December 4, 2008
Paramilitary officials patrol at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi
India has put all of its major airports on high alert after receiving threats that planes may be hijacked and used for possible attacks.
Airport security has been tightened and travellers are being asked to check in three hours before their flights.
India's air force chief Fali Homi Major said: "This is based on a warning, which has been received and we are prepared as usual."
Major airports - including New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata - have been affected.
Indian TV reported that the alert was issued after an email from Deccan Mujahideen, the same group that claimed the Mumbai attacks.
Government sources cited intelligence "inputs" that militants may have sneaked into India to try and hijack civilian aircraft.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, which is in overall charge of airport safety, said extra paramilitary troops have been deployed to guard six of the country's busiest international airports.
Sky's India correspondent Alex Crawford said: "The Indian Bureau for Civil Aviation has warned of an attempt to hijack one or more planes at Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore airports.
"Chennai airport is also on hijack alert - this is where the England cricket team is expected to play one of their test matches."
Indian Defence Minister A K Antony has told military chiefs to be prepared for assaults from the air and sea, in the wake of growing criticism about slack security after the Mumbai killings.
The atrocity in India's financial capital last week left more than 170 people dead.
New Delhi has blamed the attacks on militants who it says were trained in Pakistan.
India suspects two senior leaders of banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba orchestrated the three-day siege, Indian officials have said.
Evidence collected in the investigation pointed to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Yusuf Muzammil as masterminds behind the bloody rampage, according to two government officials.