World Bulletin / News Desk
India ordered several provinces on Thursday to be on increased alert after al Qaeda announced the formation of a wing of the militant group in India and its neighbourhood, a senior government official said.
In a video posted online, al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahri promised to spread operations across the "Indian subcontinent". The government believes it is authentic and has warned local governments, said an official who attended a security briefing in which the video was discussed with the home (interior) minister.
"This matter has been taken very seriously," the official told Reuters. "An alert has been sounded."
Until now there has been no evidence that al Qaeda has a presence in India.
Zawahri's announcement also made two references to Gujarat, the home state of India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, who was involved in the 2002 riots that killed 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, died in the spasm of violence.
"In the wake of this al Qaeda video, we will be on a higher alert. We will work closely with the central government to tackle any threat posed to the state," S.K. Nanda, the most senior bureaucrat in the home department of Gujarat, told Reuters. A high security alert in the state involves activating informer networks in sensitive areas.
A senior police official said that Gujarat has been high on the list of militant organisations, including al Qaeda, since the 2002 riots.
"It will be more so now because Narendra Modi is prime minister," the official said, requesting anonymity.
Zawahri also said that "Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent" would operate in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir.
Assam is an state in India's far-flung northeast where religious tensions are high after massacres of Muslims by tribal populations in the past two years.
Indian-occupied Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan, has long attracted foreign mujahideen fighters as well as home-grown freedom fighters.Last Mod: 04 Eylül 2014, 11:14