‘Serious’ terror threat in Mumbai; police hunt four suspected militants

A police official in Mumbai has warned four suspected militants of Pakistani origin have entered the city, the capital of Maharashtra, India, and claims they are plotting attacks in the city. Police are now searching for the four people, thought to be members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Islamic fundamentalist militant group the Indian government holds responsible for the coordinated attacks which hit Mumbai in 2008. Joint police commissioner Himanshu Roy says intelligence suggests “the threat is serious.”

Ajmal Amir Kasab in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during the 2008 Mumbai attacks

A United States counter-terrorism official said the attacks are likely imminent, and will occur over the Christmas and New Year period. “There’s no question LeT remains interested in pulling off another large-scale attack in India,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, “and we are alert to the possibility that LeT might again try a holiday attack.”

Speaking at a press conference, Roy said “[t]hey have recently arrived in Mumbai. We are not in a position to reveal their nationalities now but they are LeT members.”

Armed police have been posted around high-profile destinations in the city, and roads around the Taj Mahal Palace hotel—seiged by militants in the 2008 attacks—have been closed. Police have released a sketch of one of the militants believed to be in the city.

“The police [are] on high alert all over the city. We cannot take any of these intelligence inputs lightly in the holiday season,” another Mumbai official said. “Since yesterday, we are checking all the possible hideouts, small lodges and guesthouses, railway stations. We are checking all the vehicles that are coming into the city.”

166 people died and hundreds more were injured in the 2008 attacks, in which multiple gunmen attacked the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, a hospital, a police station, and numerous hotels, amongst other sites. The attacks were dubbed “India’s 9/11” by local media. Only one militant survived the attacks, Ajmal Amir Kasab; in May this year he was sentenced to death by hanging, on 86 charges, including murder, terrorism, and waging war against India.

Pope condemns ‘oppressors’ in Christmas message

(PTI): Pope Benedict XVI prayed for God to punish the world’s “oppressors” and bring about “true brotherhood” between peoples in his traditional Christmas message in Saint Peter’s basilica.

Pope Benedictus XVI

Lord make your promise come finally true. Break the rods of the oppressors. Burn the tramping boots. Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end,” Benedict said at the Christmas Eve mass in the basilica.

Referring to the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by believers at Christmas, he added: “This child has ignited the light of goodness in men and has given them strength to overcome the tyranny of might.

“We thank you for your goodness, but we also ask you to show forth your power,” said the pope, who was speaking exactly one year after a mentally unstable Swiss-Italian woman dragged him to the ground at the same mass.

WikiLeaks fans hack websites of credit card giants

Hackers in support of WikiLeaks have brought down the websites of credit-card giants Visa and MasterCard in the ongoing cyber-war between sympathisers of the whistle-blower site and firms trying to stifle it.

During Christmas season when online shopping is on rise, pro-WikiLeaks activists launched cyber assaults — code-named “operation payback” — a few days ago and succeeded in temporarily arresting the websites of Visa, MasterCard, Swiss payment transaction company PostFinance and PayPal.

The centre of their strategy is to cripple these websites by bombarding them with millions of bogus visits.

Online retailing giant Amazon reportedly also had to fend off a number of attacks by WikiLeaks’ sympathisers yesterday.

These companies withdrew services from Julian Assange’s site after it leaked secret US diplomatic cables, causing major embarrassment for Washington.

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