India on high alert ahead of I-Day

New Delhi, August 14 :

India’s capital and its other major cities have been placed on an unprecedented security alert amid threats of terror attacks ahead of the country’s Independence Day celebrations, officials said today.

The security alert came amid intelligence reports that Islamic militant groups were plotting major attacks around the Independence Day celebrations.

Last week, the US Embassy in New Delhi warned that groups linked to al-Qaeda could target hotels, airports or historic monuments in New Delhi, Bombay and other major cities.

Tens of thousands of policemen and paramilitary soldiers were deployed across the Indian capital, a city of 14 million people, where terror attacks were feared the most. Sharpshooters stood atop some government offices, while security forces placed barricades in many major streets of the city.

New Delhi will be declared a no-fly zone for several hours when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoists the national flag from the Red Fort, said a Home Ministry official.

In Mumbai, where security has been tightened after the deadly July 11 train bombings, authorities deployed additional forces in what they described as “sensitive areas” — a euphemism for Muslim-dominated areas.

Elite commandos were guarding nuclear facilities such as the Bhaba Atomic Research Center in Mumbai and Kalpakkam nuclear reactor in Tamil Nadu, the PTI said.

In Jammu-Kashmir state, officials said they intercepted communications among militant groups planning major attacks.