Vizhinjam: Security agencies are on their toes in the wake of the recent terror alert for South India. Adding to their concerns, a foreign cargo ship with mostly Pakistan crew has sailed past the coast off Vizhinjam on the southern tip of Kerala.
Twenty of the 21 crew onboard the ship were Pakistani nationals. The other person was from Ethiopia, the Coast Guard authorities said.
The Coast Guard unit at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram reportedly followed the vessel discreetly. Though the ship has left the territorial waters of Kerala, the ship is still being tracked by several wings of the security agencies, including the Air Force.
The cargo ship, Ariana, with Panama registration was spotted 60 km off the Vizhinjam coast the other day. Security agencies were on alert after it was known that the ship had entered the Indian territorial waters from the Karachi harbour in Pakistan. The vessel, a chemical tanker, has been under surveillance ever since it entered the Indian territorial waters.
After some abandoned boats were found in the Sir Creek area along the Gujarat coast recently, on Monday the Army had warned of a possible terror attack in south India. States, including Kerala, were then put on high alert especially as the latter was marking the week-long harvest festival of Onam.
“We have got many inputs that there may be a terrorist attack in the southern part of India. Some abandoned boats have been recovered from Sir Creek. We're taking precautions to ensure that designs of inimical elements and terrorists are stalled,” Lt Gen S K Saini, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Army Southern Command, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
In Kerala, Director General of Police Lokanath Behera has reportedly asked all district police chiefs to maintain tight security in busy areas like bus stations, railway stations and airports.
The fresh alert came less than a fortnight after Intelligence Bureau issued an alert to Gujarat police saying terrorists from Pakistan might make attempts to enter Indian territory through the Kutch region.
Citing intelligence reports, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh had also claimed that terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) was training its members to carry out underwater attacks, but assured that his force is fully prepared to face any such eventuality.