Kochi, Sep 19 (PTI) The city of Kochi, a strategically located South Indian port housing various vital installations including the Southern Naval Command, is prepared to deal with any form of terror threat, top security officials said here on Saturday, hours after the NIA arrested nine al-Qaeda cadres during raids here and in West Bengal.
After NIA revealed that the arrested terrorists intended to launch terror attacks on vital installations in the country with an aim to kill innocent people, Defence sources said here that the Kochi-based Southern Naval Command (SNC) has been in heightened security for quite some time.
'The SNC will continue to take all precautions against all possible threats,' a Defence source told PTI.
Highly placed sources in the Kochi city police said the city police has been effectively carrying out its job to identify the terror elements, monitoring the activities of the people visiting and camping in the city.
'We are very well prepared to deal with any form of such terror threats,' a senior officer said, reacting to the arrest of three West Bengal natives from Ernakulam district.
Acting on a tip provided by central intelligence agencies, the NIA, with the help of the state police forces, carried out raids in the intervening night of September 18 and 19 at Ernakulam in Kerala and Murshidabad in West Bengal and arrested the 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 residents of West Bengal, the NIA said.
A senior police officer said the state police is doing a lot of work for identifying the cadres of terror groups landing in Kerala and the al-Qaeda terrorists were arrested in a joint operation by the NIA and the state police.
'The people suspected to have terror links are put on surveillance.
We are always on the lookout for such elements.This is an ongoing activity,' the officer said when asked about the steps taken by the state police to identify the terror suspects in Kerala, which is home to a large population of migrant workers especially from West Bengal.
The police do not publicise the type of works being done on the ground to tackle terrorists, he said.
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, they added.
Meanwhile, the Congress and the BJP attacked the state government over the issue, alleging the state has become a hub of terrorists under CPI(M)-led LDF rule.
KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran alleged the state police failed to trace the presence of al-Qaeda terrorists in the soil of Kerala.
'With the arrest of three al-Qaeda terrorists from the state, it is evident that that law and order machinery in the state has collapsed and the state has become a fertile soil for terror groups,' Ramachandran told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
BJP state president K Surendran claimed Kerala has become a 'hideout' for terrorists under the rule of both CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-led UDF.
He also claimed the state government ignored a recent UN report on terrorism that warned that there are 'significant numbers' of ISIS terrorists in Kerala and about al-Qaeda terrorists planning attacks in the country.PTI TGBBN WELCOME TGBBN WELCOME