Lashkar-e-Taiba to attack Velankanni Church during festival – 2 persons suspected to have terrorist connections arrested in Kerala

Lashkar-e-Taiba to attack Velankanni Church during festival – two persons suspected to have terrorist connections arrested in Kerala

Amidst the high alert following reports that six members of the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) infiltrated into the state by sea from Sri Lanka and moved to different cities, two persons were arrested in Kerala whom the police suspect to have terrorist connections. Abdul Qadar Rahim, a resident of Kodungallur who arrived in Kochi two days ago and a woman are among the arrested. The arrested will be handed over to Tamil Nadu Police, official sources said.

As per intelligence report, six members of the terror outfit infiltrated into the state by sea from Sri Lanka and moved to different cities, including Coimbatore. The group consisting of one Pakistan national and 5 others from Sri Lanka and India were planning to attack Velankanni church which is at a distance of 360 kilometres from the city, reports said. Coimbatore is often referred to as the terrorist hub in south India where in 1998 a serial blast by fundamentalists killed at least 58 people and left 200 injured.

The Velankanni church or the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, located in the Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu, is one of the country’s biggest Catholic pilgrimage centres. Thousands of devotees from across the country and even from abroad gather here to take part in the festival conducted during the month of August. If an attack similar to that of Sri Lanka is carried out here, the causalities would be much higher than that of the neighbouring country. The series of coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday this year had killed at least 359 people and wounding 500 others.

Security has been stepped up at many places, including airports, railway stations, bus stands and places of worship across the state. Tamil Nadu DGP Jayant Murali who is presently in Coimbatore is coordinating the security arrangements in the state. All the vehicles coming in and out of the city are being checked thoroughly. Around 2000 policemen have been deployed within the city limits. Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) Lokanath Behera has sent a directive to all district police chiefs to take caution. He also advised the police to be beef up security at public places like bus stands, railway station, and airports as well as near the places of worship.

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