Hijack Warning for Air India Flight: Airports on High Alert

Hijack Warning for Air India Flight: Airports on High Alert

Specific intelligence inputs have indicated that the Kabul-Delhi Air India flight could be targeted by Islamic State militants or the Taliban.

New Delhi:  Airports across the country are on high alert and anti-hijack measures are in place after intelligence agencies warned of a possible hijack attempt on an Air India flight to Kabul in Afghanistan.

"Security around all the airports has been strengthened and we have taken all the measures that are required in the wake of the alert from intelligence agencies," official sources said, Press Trust of India reported.

There is additional checking of passengers and their baggage at some of the major airports, including the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in Delhi. The airport staff has been asked to check cabin baggage once boarding is competed and even airport staff is being thoroughly checked by the airport security personnel, the sources said.

Flights to Afghanistan are being monitored carefully, said security officials.

Sources told NDTV that the threat perception is based on messages that surfaced earlier, indicating that both Islamic State militants and the Taliban could choose to target India with a possible hijack attempt similar to the Kandahar hijack of 1999, when terrorists took over an Indian Airlines flight IC 814 and forced it fly to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Security agencies indicated that an Air India flight to Kabul could be targeted as it is the national carrier and senior officials travel on it to Afghanistan.

This comes ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to India later this month. The US President will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade to be held in Delhi on January 26.

Security had already been tightened at airports and other vital installations across the country in view of his visit.

India is currently training the Afghan National Army and is participating in the reconstruction efforts in the country.

Indians in Afghanistan have been frequent targets of militant attack - the last big attack took place at the Indian Consulate in Herat in May 2014 by four heavily-armed militants. The gun-battle to sanitise the place lasted several hours. None of the consulate staff were injured.

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