Unknown group threatens New Year's Eve attacks in India

High-tech businesses, the Indian space agency and nuclear facilities across south India stepped up security Friday following threats to target a top politician and launch attacks against New Year's revelers in India's technology hub, Bangalore, officials said. Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka state, was the site of a terror attack on Wednesday in which gunmen opened fire outside a prestigious science institute, killing a retired professor and wounding four other people.

Bangalore is home to about 1,500 software companies, including the offices of at least 75 multinational corporations from the United States, Europe and Japan. Dozens of other technology, biotech and telecom companies are located elsewhere in Karnataka state.

Security concerns were heightened because most of India's top space and atomic facilities are scattered across southern India. A letter from a previously unknown militant group which was faxed to several newspapers late Thursday threatened a series of attacks in Bangalore, Director-General of Police B.S. Sial said.

"It will be the most coordinated attack the country has ever seen," independent television channel CNN-IBN quoted the letter, written in English, as saying. The letter said six attackers would trigger explosions, including "two human bombs to target the state chief minister." The letter was signed by Moin-ud-Din of the previously unknown Al-Jehadi group, CNN-IBN reported.

"It is a matter of grave concern. An alert has been sounded at all the establishments engaged in scientific, defense and nuclear activities" and with high-tech businesses, Home Secretary V.K. Duggal said Friday.

Analysts said the threatened terror attacks were meant to target India's growing economy and its capacity to attract foreign investment. India's economy has grown about 6 percent a year over the past decade, and its share of the technology and outsourcing market is expected grow by 25 percent a year over the next five years, from its current US$22 billion (Ђ18.5 billion) to US$60 billion (Ђ50.5 billion).

Each year, India attracts billions of dollars in foreign investment. "Attacks are made so that our capacity for development and attracting investment are hurt ... the target is economic," said Ajai Shani, executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management in New Delhi.

In Bangalore and other south Indian cities, companies stepped up security to thwart any terrorist attack.

Infosys Technologies Ltd., a Bangalore-based software giant, "has its own security and after the incident we have taken precautions," said N.R. Narayan Murthy, a senior company official. He declined to provide any specifics. Infosys earns more than half of its revenue from exports to the U.S.

Another major software company, Wipro, said it had well-established security procedures and had begun monitoring movements of vehicles and visitors in and around its facilities in Bangalore, reports the AP. I.L.

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