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Indian Prime Minister Warns of Possible Terror Attacks

  • Anjana Pasricha

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has warned of more terror attacks in the country, possibly targeting economic, religious and nuclear sites. The Indian leader is calling on regional governments to improve security to meet the challenge.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's issued the grim warning Tuesday to the heads of Indian states and top federal law enforcement officials at a security conference in New Delhi.

Mr. Singh says India's intelligence agencies have warned that terrorists could hit economic and religious targets as well as nuclear installations. He says suicide attacks are possible.

The prime minister's warning comes two months after bombs on commuter trains in the financial hub of Mumbai killed more than 180 people. The capital New Delhi and the Hindu holy city of Varanasi have also suffered bomb attacks in the past year. India has blamed all these attacks on Islamic militants with links in Pakistan.

Mr. Singh says the terror threats come from increasing activities of what he called "externally-inspired and directed terrorist outfits".

"Reports also suggest that the terrorist modules and sleeper cells exist in some of our urban areas, all of which highlight the seriousness of the threat we face. These are serious matters," he said.

The prime minister also called Tuesday for firm handling of rising violence in several eastern and southern states where Maoist rebels have stepped-up attacks in recent years. Mr. Singh says the left-wing extremists are active in the "most neglected areas of the country".

Mr. Singh said the security situation had improved in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has been the center of a violent 17-year long Islamic insurgency. But he said "we should remain on our guard" because anti-India elements are still active in the region.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India, which accuses its neighbor of sheltering Islamic militants responsible for violent attacks in the Indian-controlled sector.

Prime Minister Singh urged state officials to do more to improve security, saying economic development is impossible without effective law and order.

"Our understanding, however, is that the states are not doing enough even regarding the filling up of existing vacancies in the police and other law and order agencies, or improving the quality of the state's special branches or toning up law and order administration," he said.

Tuesday's security conference was aimed at improving coordination between New Delhi and India's states to tackle terrorism.

India has been on heightened security alert since the July bombings in Mumbai. It also stepped-up security at airports after British police last month said they foiled a plot to bomb trans-Atlantic flights.

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