Karnataka: Hubli airport on terror alert

A tip-off suggests that a small aircraft may be hijacked and crashed into an high rise building in Mumbai, as in the 9/11 attacks, police said.

Bangalore: Hubli airport in north Karnataka has been put on high alert after a tip-off by intelligence agencies that a small aircraft may be hijacked and crashed into an high rise building in Mumbai, as in the 9/11 attacks, a senior police officer said late Sunday.

"We have beefed up security and deployed additional personnel in and around the small airport to prevent such an attempt (hijack) or a repeat of 9/11 in our country," Hubli Police Commissioner K. Ramchandra Rao said.

Located about 10 km from the commercial city and about 400 km from Bangalore, the airport is managed by the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI), with Kingfisher` Airline`s budget carrier operating a daily flight from Bangalore to Mumbai via Hubli and back.

"After alert from intelligence sources and inputs from related agencies on the possibility of terrorists plotting to use smaller airports in the state to hijack a smaller aircraft and crash into a tall building in Mumbai, we held a meeting Saturday with the airport manager and other stakeholders, including the operating airline (Kingfisher) to step up vigil and plug loopholes," Rao said.

Besides installing cameras and closed circuit television inside the terminal and periphery, dog squad and bomb detection squad, police have asked the airport authorities and the private airline to provide a list of their people deployed there.

"We are also collecting information on all employees working at the airport and others going to the airport regularly and for what purpose to keep a track of things happening. As of now, there is no threat or clear warning of such an attempt," Rao asserted.

The airport is also used for charted flights and helicopter services by private airlines, corporates and VIPs, including ministers and political leaders, during electioneering.

According to media reports from Mumbai, domestic and international terminals have been put on high alert and air traffic controllers cautioned against giving permission to fly a private aircraft from Hubli to Mumbai unless cleared by higher authorities.


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