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BWF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ‘09 – HEIGHTEND SECURITY FOLLOWING TERROR THREAT

Posted by febrikusuma on August 10, 2009

HYDERABAD: The World Badminton Championships scheduled to begin here on Monday has been enveloped in a security blanket following specific information that terror operatives are plotting to target it.

The information that was relayed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to the state authorities was that terror elements would attempt to strike at the international players as they did against Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan recently.

Top-ranked badminton players are scheduled to take part in the World Championships slated to be held at Gatchibowli from August 10 to 16. As of Friday, over 200 players from all over the world and their support staff have already arrived.

Following the specific threat, security teams have fanned across the entire area. “Special teams with metal detectors and sniffer dogs have been placed at various points. Security has been strengthened at the four venues where the players are staying and armed escorts will be present when the players go from their hotels to the stadium. Special armed teams will also accompany the players when they go shopping,” sources told TOI.

The threat of a strike at the international sporting event came a day after intelligence inputs suggested that Lashkar operatives may target Hyderabad, New Delhi and Kolkata around Independence Day. About five Intelligence Bureau officials in three batches grilled the championship organizers for about an hour on Thursday and for more than two hours on Friday.

Sources told TOI that the IB officials have confirmed a ‘specific’ Lashkar-e-Taiba threat to the championship and enquired if the organizers had received any threat calls from Pakistan. “They told us they had specific information about some threatening calls from Pakistan. They even showed us some phone numbers and said that these numbers had received calls from Pakistan. We were asked to give the details of all the phone calls we received in the last few days,” one official involved with the Championship told TOI.

The intelligence officials have collected details of about 500 foreign players and officials who will be arriving for the championship.

“We told them that we are working closely with the police and we have even taken the help of an Australian security agency. But they told us they have nothing to do with the police and collected all details about the teams, their practice schedules etc. They gave us specific instructions and said that they will keep a close watch on the Championships,’’ the official said.

It may be recalled that the September 2007 Indian Open Grand Prix was postponed after twin blasts on a fateful Saturday in August.

Given the scenario and the fact that Hyderabad has been alerted by the Union government of a possible terror attack the police are leaving no stone unturned as regards player security.

Meanwhile, with security having been stepped up all across Hyderabad due to the terror threat to the city, task force personnel conducted raids at places including hotels and shopping malls. Four persons, including an Iranian and a Djibouti national, were detained for not having any valid papers with them.

// SOURCE – THE TIMES OF INDIA

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