The city of Kochi is prepared to deal with any form of terror threat, top security officials said here on Saturday, hours after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested nine al-Qaeda operatives during raids conducted here and in West Bengal.

After the NIA said the arrested terrorists had planned to launch terror attacks on vital installations in the country with an aim to kill innocent people, defence sources said the Kochi-based Southern Naval Command (SNC) has been under heightened security for some time. “The SNC will continue to take all precautions against all possible threats,” a defence source said.

Highly placed sources in the Kochi city police said the police have been working to identify terror elements in the city. “We are well-prepared to deal with any form of terror threats,” a senior officer said, reacting to the arrest of three West Bengal natives from Ernakulam district.

Acting on a tip-off provided by Central intelligence agencies, the NIA, with the help of the State police, carried out raids in the intervening night of September 18 and 19 at Ernakulam in Kerala and Murshidabad in West Bengal and arrested nine men — Murshid Hasan, Iyakub Biswas, Mosaraf Hossen from Ernakulam and Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman from Murshidabad.

 

Hasan is the leader of the gang and those arrested from Kerala are also originally from West Bengal, the NIA said.A senior police officer said the State police is working to identify operatives of terror groups in Kerala“People suspected to have terror links are put on surveillance. We are always on the lookout for such elements,” another senior officer said when asked about the steps taken by the State police to identify terror suspects in Kerala, which is home to a large population of migrant workers, especially from West Bengal.

The three al-Qaeda terrorists, who were arrested from three different locations in the district, were working as migrant workers, police said. They lived in rented houses in Perumbavoor in Ernakulam rural and Pathalam in Kochi city.

BJP, Cong. flay govt.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked the State government over the issue. KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran said, “…it is evident that that law and order machinery in the State has collapsed and it has become fertile soil for terror groups.”

BJP State president K. Surendran said Kerala has become a “hideout” for terrorists under the rule of both CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF.

He added that the State government ignored a recent UN report on terrorism that warned that there are “significant numbers” of ISIS terrorists in Kerala and that al-Qaeda terrorists were planning attacks in the country.

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