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India Deploys Anti-Terror Troops in 4 Major Cities

India has established new anti-terror bases for elite troops in its major cities.  Four regional hubs have been opened, following widespread criticism the response to last year's deadly terror attacks in Mumbai was too slow.

The regional centers for India's crack commando unit known as the National Security Guard have been established in Mumbai in the west of the country, Chennai and Hyderabad in the south, and Kolkata in the east.

The elite troops of the National Security Guard have led several counter-terrorism operations, including their response to the daring terror attacks in Mumbai last November when gunmen stormed several locations and killed more than 160 people.

But the commandos arrived about 10 hours after the attacks were mounted.  This was largely due to logistical difficulties of getting them from their base in New Delhi to Mumbai.

Security experts strongly criticized the delay, saying the anti-terror force should have arrived much faster.  The operation to flush out the militants from two five-star hotels continued for nearly 60 hours, experts said this was partly due to the delay in the deployment of the commandos.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram says the creation of regional centers will help to reduce reaction time to "mindless acts of terror." 

"As I have said there are two objectives," he said.  "First to raise the level of preparedness to meet any terror threat or terror attack, and second to respond swiftly and decisively in the case of any terror threat or terror attack."

More than 1,000 commandos will be deployed in the four centers.  Home Minister Chidambaram says two more centers will be established in the cities of Guwahati in the northeast, and Jodhpur in the north.  This will ensure anti-terror troops can be deployed quickly in any part of the country that faces a terror attack.   

The high-profile attacks in Mumbai had prompted the government to take a raft of measures to overhaul the country's security apparatus.

The government says it is taking steps to beef up coastal security, improve training for anti terrorism officers and is bolstering the country's intelligence agencies.  State governments have been asked to give better training and equipment to local police.

In recent years, Indian cities have been the target of several terror attacks, blamed on Islamic militants.  The government says more than 400 people were killed in terror attacks in the country last year.   


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