High alert at 3 airports after hijack threat

High alert at 3 airports after hijack threat
An email about a possible aircraft hijack has prompted the government to put international airports in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai on high alert on Sunday.

The email, purportedly sent by a Hyderabad-based woman, claimed she overheard six men talking about sending 23 men to three cities to board flights and hijack them. According to the email, the men said all 23 people have to split from here and board flights in three cities and hijack planes.

The Mumbai Police, which received the mail on Saturday night, shared the contents with central security and intelligence agencies. The security at these airports and others was increased with more personnel from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and state police deployed at the facilities.

CISF Director General O P Singh said the security apparatus at the airports has been put on an enhanced alert and protocols have been stepped up.

Officials said that the threat may turn out to be a hoax. However, they are not taking any chances.

The woman who sent the email herself had written that what she heard may turn false but she decided to inform police as she thought it was her duty to do so.

The CISF carried out special anti-sabotage sweeps at the three airports and passengers had to go through a more rigorous checking, while baggage screening was stepped up.

The intensity of the pre-embarkation checks and secondary ladder point checking was also increased. More sniffer dogs were pressed into service.

The airports are already under heavy security following threat perception.

According to a parliamentary panel, the latest threat inputs on airports include use of surgically implanted explosives for interference in civil aviation operations, IEDs hidden in printer ink and toner cartridges, hijacks using trained pilots and forcible intrusion at smaller airports.

Though the terror threat perception is high here, the panel was told, India has been rated highly in terms of aviation security in the last International Civil Aviation Organisation audit in 2011. The parameter, Lack of Effective Implementation for India, stood at 10.75% against the global average of 34.01%.

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