Tamil Nadu on high alert following terror threat

Security has been tightened across Tamil Nadu following intelligence inputs that members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba had infiltrated into the state, police. (PTI Photo)

Major cities in Tamil Nadu, especially capital city Chennai and Coimbatore, have been placed under high alert following a specific intelligence input that six terrorists, including a Pakistani national, belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have sneaked into the state to execute terror attacks.

Shopping malls, prominent temples, railway stations and other vital installations in Chennai and Coimbatore have been brought under a thick blanket of security since Thursday night following a “credible” input that the terrorists would strike these cities.

The six LeT terrorists – one Pakistani and five Sri Lankan Tamil Muslims – are believed to have sneaked into Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka through the sea route.

Police Commissioners of Chennai and Coimbatore confirmed that a red alert has been sounded in both the cities, new check posts have come up in the city’ borders to check all incoming and outgoing vehicles besides the usual combing operation.

Immediately after the alert was issued on Thursday night, police swung into action and conducted raids in several places in the state and put major cities under high alert.

“We have a specific input that a team of terrorists are moving towards Coimbatore. We have beefed up security at shopping malls and temples besides carrying out checking of vehicles across the city. Also, the city police have deployed 10 Quick Response Teams (QRT) to respond to any eventuality,” Coimbatore City Police Commissioner Sumit Saran said.

He also asked people not to panic since more than 2,000 police personnel have been deployed to ensure safety and security of the people. Top sources in the police told DH that the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has also been informed about the input that the terrorists might have taken the sea route.

They also said the name of the Pakistani national could be Iliyas Anwar and that the Sri Lankans are suspected to have been involved in the April 21 Easter bombings across the island nation.

Coimbatore is a communally sensitive city having been a victim of terrorism in 1998 when more than 50 people were killed due to a serial bomb blast that ripped through several parts of the city. For the past few months, National Investigative Agency (NIA) sleuths have been conducted raids in Coimbatore periodically and picking up suspects who are inspired by Islamic State (IS).

The late-night alert specifically states that the terrorists are likely to mingle with common people to ensure that their identities are not ascertained. “The group have disguised as Hindus with tilak or vibhuthi smeared on forehead,” the alert reads.

A senior police officer, who had handled several such cases in the past said, the department has been receiving inputs in the past few months about terrorists planning attacks in Tamil Nadu. “These people would come into Tamil Nadu by sea and then take the road to different cities. To avoid getting caught, they might use public transport and mingle with common people,” the officer said.

The alert comes two months after three persons were arrested for allegedly planning to carry out attacks in temples and churches in Coimbatore after having been “inspired” by terror outfit, IS.

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