A police official in Mumbai has warned four suspected militants of Pakistani origin have entered the city, the capital of Maharashtra, India, and claims they are plotting attacks in the city. Police are now searching for the four people, thought to be members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Islamic fundamentalist militant group the Indian government holds responsible for the coordinated attacks which hit Mumbai in 2008. Joint police commissioner Himanshu Roy says intelligence suggests "the threat is serious."
Lashkar-e-Taiba are thought to be responsible for the coordinated attacks which hit Mumbai in 2008.
Image: Vinukumar Ranganathan.
A United States counter-terrorism official said the attacks are likely imminent, and will occur over the Christmas and New Year period. "There’s no question LeT remains interested in pulling off another large-scale attack in India," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, "and we are alert to the possibility that LeT might again try a holiday attack."
Speaking at a press conference, Roy said "[t]hey have recently arrived in Mumbai. We are not in a position to reveal their nationalities now but they are LeT members."
There’s no question [Lashkar-e-Taiba] remains interested in pulling off another large-scale attack in India
Armed police have been posted around high-profile destinations in the city, and roads around the Taj Mahal Palace hotel—seiged by militants in the 2008 attacks—have been closed. Police have released a sketch of one of the militants believed to be in the city.
"The police [are] on high alert all over the city. We cannot take any of these intelligence inputs lightly in the holiday season," another Mumbai official said. "Since yesterday, we are checking all the possible hideouts, small lodges and guesthouses, railway stations. We are checking all the vehicles that are coming into the city."
166 people died and hundreds more were injured in the 2008 attacks, in which multiple gunmen attacked the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, a hospital, a police station, and numerous hotels, amongst other sites. The attacks were dubbed "India’s 9/11" by local media. Only one militant survived the attacks, Ajmal Amir Kasab; in May this year he was sentenced to death by hanging, on 86 charges, including murder, terrorism, and waging war against India.