Nepal ramps up airport security after India attack tip-off

Nepal put security at its lone international airport Saturday on high alert after neighbouring India increased security at its domestic terminals.

"We have put security (at Tribhuvan International Airport) on high alert with a view to possible hijack attempts," said Keshav Raj Khanal, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

India stepped up security at its airports and warned the country's airlines about a possible hijack attempt following a tip-off from Western intelligence services, officials said Friday.

The alert received by India said flights of state-run Air India and private carriers could be targeted by Islamist groups aligned to Al-Qaeda or the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group.

The alert warned of flights from India or originating in countries neighbouring India -- Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar or Sri Lanka -- being specific targets.

"We will deploy more security forces and beef up our vigilance at the Tribhuvan airport," Khanal told AFP.

Tribhuvan International Airport is the only international airport in the Himalayan nation.

Home ministry official Ekmani Nepal called the move a precautionary step.

"The Nepal government has increased security so that there will be no incidents on Nepalese soil," he told AFP.

On Christmas Eve in 1999, Islamic rebels seized an Indian Airlines plane travelling from Nepal to New Delhi and forced it to land in the then-Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

One passenger was stabbed to death by the hijackers before New Delhi agreed to release four Islamic militants in exchange for the 167 passengers and crew.

India has been battling an Islamic insurgency in its Muslim-majority region of Kashmir for the past 20 years.

Prominent rebel groups fighting Indian troops in the disputed region include the LeT and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, founded by one of the militants freed in return for the Indian plane hostages.

 

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