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Mumbai on high alert after school students spot 'armed' men in Uran; Fadnavis says all precautions being taken

A high alert was sounded in Mumbai after five to six persons were spotted moving suspiciously near a naval base at Uran in Raigad district on Thursday.


Mumbai on high alert after school students spot 'armed' men in Uran; Fadnavis says all precautions being taken

Mumbai: A high alert was sounded in Mumbai after five to six persons were spotted moving suspiciously near a naval base at Uran in Raigad district on Thursday.

The Indian Navy, National Security Guard (NSG), state police's specialised commandos Force One, Mumbai Crime Branch and ATS were put on duty for the search operations.

Naval spokesman Cdr Rahul Sinha said in a statement, “As per the reports, five to six persons were sighted in Pathan suits and appeared to be carrying weapons and backpacks."

The first tip off came from some school children at Karanja in Uran.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis appealed to citizens not to panic and said all precautions are being taken after a high alert was sounded along the Mumbai coast and adjoining areas.

Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Minister of State for Home (Rural) Deepak Kesarkar said multiple security agencies were involved in extensive combing operations near the naval base in Uran and appealed to people to maintain calm and not believe in rumours.

The Maharashtra minister said there had been conflicting reports about the attire of the suspects.

"Some say the suspects were five to six in number, while one student claimed he saw one person. While there were some who claimed the suspects wore 'burqa' (veils), others claimed they were wearing Army fatigues," he said.

The entire town of Uran went on a spontaneous shutdown as a precaution even as Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner, district police and Navy officers went to the spot to verify the students' claims.

A similar high alert was sounded in Mumbai with armed police taking positions at various points in south Mumbai, including near the Gateway of India and Girgaum Chowpatty.

The alert comes four days after the Uri attack which left 18 soldiers dead.

The Navy pressed its choppers for aerial surveillance and heightened patrolling in the sea by its vessels and high-speed boats.

Some children from Uran Education Society's school first spotted the suspects, and their teacher informed the police, the police said, adding none of them have been traced.

The Western Naval Command (WNC) issued a "highest state of alert" along the Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Raigad coasts where several sensitive establishments and assets are located.

Western India's biggest naval base, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, fertiliser plants, refineries, power plants and the country's largest container port, JNPT are located in close vicinity of Uran.

Coastal security has been a top priority after the 26/11 attacks, in which multiple locations in Mumbai were targeted by Pakistani terrorists who landed using the sea route.

The fishing town of Uran is located across the eastern water front of the financial capital. The base located close to the town also houses units of MARCOS, the Navy's elite strike force.

Besides, the entire region is highly sensitive in view of the close proximity of the Western Naval Command headquarters just across the harbour in Mumbai, the naval harbour, the Mumbai Port Trust, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, several critical installations like BARC and oil terminals, offices of important central and state government in a small radius.

Mumbai is particularly sensitive to security threats after gunmen, who arrived by sea, went on a three-day rampage in 2008 in the western city that left 166 people dead. India blamed the attacks on Pakistani militants.

Much earlier, the sea route was taken for landing large quantities of arms and ammunition at various points on the Maharashtra coast which were used for carrying out the serial bomb attacks in Mumbai on March 12, 1993.

From Zee News

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