Special Correspondent

Al Qaeda terrorists have infiltrated the Chennai airport: anonymous letter

NEW DELHI: All airports in the country, particularly those in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, were put on a high security alert on Thursday following threats of an attack by Al Qaeda terrorists.

The alert was sounded after an anonymous handwritten letter was found in an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) room, under renovation, at the Tiruchi airport on Wednesday. "The letter was placed in an envelope and addressed to the Tiruchi Airport Director. We have asked intelligence agencies to check the veracity of this letter,'' Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad told newspersons here on Thursday.

He said the letter warned that the "Al Qaeda terrorists have infiltrated the Chennai airport and are going to blow it up using sophisticated explosive devices. Suicide bombers have penetrated the Chennai airport and placed powerful bombs there.''

The letter, written in Tamil, did not bear any signature, name or letterhead of any terrorist group, he said. It also warned of possible attacks on airports in Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Madurai, Kochi, Calicut and Thiruvananthapuram.

Security reviewed

The Civil Aviation Ministry held a series of meetings with top officials of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Home Ministry and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and reviewed the security measures. "We are enhancing security measures at all airports and some additional measures like a thorough hand baggage scan and search, ladder point check, perimeter security and access control to airport were being put in place,'' Mr. Prasad said.

The Civil Aviation Secretary said that authorities were taking all precautionary measures. Replying to a query, Mr. Prasad said all staffers of airlines and airports, parking lots and vehicles would come in for special check. He said that he was not aware of any delays on account of enhanced security measures at airports.

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