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US Embassy Warns of ‘Increased’ Terror Threat in India

Bus with Passengers on the roof at Indian National Highway 34, Nakashipara-Nadia

Bus with Passengers on the roof at Indian National Highway 34, Nakashipara-Nadia. Photo: Biswarup.Ganguly.

A warning by the American embassy against an “increased” terrorist threat in India possibly linked to Islamic State (IS) is not unfounded and based on substantial inputs from intelligence agencies, according to Indian security analysts.

The security advisory from the embassy came in the face of prevailing tensions between India and Pakistan along their common border, particularly over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, observers said.

On its website the embassy earlier this week warned of “an increased threat to places frequented by Westerners such as religious sites, markets and festival venues.”

In its “Security Message for U.S. Citizens,” the travel wing of the State Department said recent Indian media reports had indicated the IS’s “desire to attack targets in India.” The advisory referred to the Middle East extremist group by another acronym, ISIL.

“All U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of Sept. 9, 2016,” the message added.

The state department had issued the September warning just nine days before a pre-dawn attack by Kashmiri militants left 18 soldiers dead at an Indian army base in Uri, located near the Line of Control (LoC), a de factor border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, according to The Times of India.

The warning then stated, “India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

In response, the government of Hindu majority India said it was aware of the most recent message.

“The government is taking all security precautions necessary to protect its citizens. Appropriate advisories are also issued from time to time by the center to the state governments,” Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman K.S. Dhatwalia told BenarNews.

Although Indian government officials have denied that IS has made any significant inroads in India, domestic intelligence agencies claimed in August that about 50 Indian Muslims had left for Iraq and Syria to fight alongside the extremist group. Among them, six had died in battle.

At least another 30 Indians have been prevented from leaving India to join IS and scores are under surveillance for showing sympathy toward the organization, according to sources in Indian intelligence.

Full story: BenarNews

Akash Vashishtha
New Delhi

Copyright ©2016, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.