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Maldives chapter in Lashkar's terror plans

By Vicky Nanjappa in Bengalaru
Last updated on: December 19, 2008 16:00 IST
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The need of the hour is to maintain a tight vigil along India's coast, Intelligence Bureau officials told Their observation emerges from specific information which points to terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayiba training men to sabotage of India's nuclear and oil installations.

An IB intercept suggests that the Lashkar plans to target crucial installations like the Kalpakkam nuclear power plant near Chennai and the Indian Space Research Organisation station at Thumba among other installations situated along the coast.

Several intelligence intercepts and the confessions of arrested terrorists suggest that terror groups in Pakistan have been planning to target India from the sea for some time now.

An IB officer told that the attacks in Mumbai heralded the commencement of the plan.

Terrorists have been using the sea to transport arms and ammunition after the border in Jammu and Kashmir was electrified and security on India's other borders was improved significantly.

The Lashkar has kept Indian terrorists out of such operations as planners at the terror outfit feel Indians lack maritime expertise.

Preference is being given to youth from the Maldives, Sabahuddin, who was arrested for the attack on the Central Reserve Police Force camp in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, told his interrogators at the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad. He added that not a single Maldivian youth has been employed in a terror attack so far.

IB agents and other investigators say the youth from the Maldives -- a group of islands in the Indian Ocean -- would have superior knowledge of the sea.

The Lashkar, IB agents believe, may send indoctrinated Maldivian youth to smaller, uninhabited, islands in Indian waters to establish bases to launch terror operations via the sea.

Intelligence inputs suggest that two islands near the Andamans, Trinket and Nancowry, are on the Lashkar radar. Security has since been tightened in the area. IB officers feel there is need for similar vigilance along the entire Indian coast, especially the Lakshadweep islands, which are close to the Maldives.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengalaru