Serious Security Risk In India: Warnings For Foreign TouristsApril 22, 2010
United States, Britain, Canada and Australia warned their citizens of serious security risk and terror threat in India. The current situation raises serious concerns over Indian hosting of Commonwealth Games 2010 and the Cricket World Cup.
New Delhi – Australia and Britain on Thursday warned tourists of the increased risk of militant attacks in New Delhi, joining Canada and the US, which have urged foreigners to avoid parts of the Indian capital.
The new alerts updated long-standing general advice for Western visitors to India that they should exercise caution and underlined security risks in the city as it gears up to host the Commonwealth Games in October.
The US said on Wednesday it had information of a “specific” threat to half-a-dozen of the city’s shopping areas and markets which it described as “especially attractive targets”. It advised Americans traveling or residing in India to maintain “a high level of vigilance” and watch out for unattended packages.
The Canadian government said on its website that an attack could be carried out “in the following days or weeks in market areas” of Delhi frequented by foreigners, specifically in the Chandni Chowk area in Old Delhi.
Following this new advice, the Australian High Commission in New Delhi said on Thursday it “strongly” advised Australians “to minimise their presence in market areas of New Delhi”.
India is home to a wide range of separatists and insurgents. A growing Maoist insurgency, so far concentrated in remote rural areas of northern and eastern India, also threatens to spread to urban areas, with the eastern city of Kolkata seen as particularly at risk.
The advisories were upgrades to previous general advice warning of attacks on prominent business and tourist locations such as Western-owned hotels.
A statement from the British High Commission on Thursday warned that “there are increased indications that terrorists are planning attacks in New Delhi”.
The new travel warnings came as India prepares to host the Commonwealth Games in October, set to draw 8,000 foreign athletes and officials. India will also co-host next year’s cricket World Cup battling and struggling to salvage its image as a safe host.
In February, a bomb ripped through a crowded restaurant popular with travellers in the western city of Pune, killing 16 people, including five foreigners.
It was first major incident since the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 10 Islamist gunmen launched an assault on multiple targets in India’s financial capital, killing 166 people.
The last major attack in New Delhi was a series of bomb blasts in busy, upmarket shopping areas in September 2008 that killed 22 people and wounded 100 more.
Last weekend, two low-intensity bombs went off at a cricket stadium in the southern city of Bangalore ahead of an Indian Premier League game, causing fresh jitters among sportsmen and women.