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India thwarts terrorist plan to attack tourists visiting Goa

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Feb 08, 2008

Indian security forces thwarted a plan by terrorists to attack tourists visiting the western state of Goa, one of India's most popular holiday destinations.

The attack was planned for the Christmas-New Year period in North Goa's Calangute-Baga beach area, state-run broadcaster Doordarshan reported. The plan was discovered when police detained a suspect recently, it said.

``We have sounded the alert all over the state and security has been strengthened,'' the broadcaster cited Goa Chief Minister Digamber Kamat as saying yesterday. Police are making sure ``the security of the people'' isn't compromised.

Indian authorities typically increase security in Goa during the holiday period. Israel's government in December 2006 advised its citizens to avoid visiting the region, saying al- Qaeda was targeting the state.

The suspect detained said the attack failed because he was unable to obtain about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of explosives from Pakistan, Doordarshan reported.

Security forces have information that terrorists made three visits to the coastal areas and places where tourists gather to prepare the attack, it cited Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik as saying. One target may have been a discotheque, Doordarshan reported, citing unidentified police officials.

Overseas Visitors

India had more than 4.4 million overseas tourists visiting the country last year, according to Ministry of Tourism statistics. An estimated 12 percent go to Goa, which is famous for its beaches, according to the official Web site of the Goa state government. The area is also a popular destination for Israeli visitors.

The airport at Goa was placed on alert in December 2006 after the authorities received a hijack threat from al-Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, the Press Trust of India reported at the time.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, formed in 1990 in Afghanistan, is one of the largest groups fighting India's control of the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to the South Asia Intelligence Review. India has accused Pakistan of supporting separatist groups in the state, a charge Pakistan denies.

India said two months ago it will hold military exercises in its southern peninsula in 2008, a move defense analysts said is aimed at controlling terrorists such as Tamil Tiger fighters operating from neighboring Sri Lanka.

India and Sri Lanka have increased naval patrols in the Palk Strait between the countries to combat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which is fighting for a separate homeland. The LTTE is moving its arms smuggling operations to Kerala state from Tamil Nadu, Doordarshan cited Vice Admiral Sunil Damle, who heads India's Southern Naval Command, as saying last November.

India, the U.S. and the European Union designate the LTTE as a terrorist organization.

India thwarts terrorist plan to attack tourists visiting Goa

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