KATHMANDU, Nov 9: Nepal’s only international airport went on high alert after receiving threats that Osama bin Laden’s network was planning to fly hijacked airliners into targets in New Delhi.
The English-language daily Kathmandu Post quoted airport and airline officials as saying the new security measures had been put in place since Wednesday.
The report said the new measures were taken following the receipt of information of a “threat” from Chennai, India.
The newspaper said a letter received from Chennai warned of a possible plot by members of Osama bin Laden’s group to “hijack an airliner out of Kathmandu, and ram it into targets in New Delhi”.
According to the newspaper, the letter also said Osama’s men “were already in Kathmandu to carry out the attack”.
The Kathmandu authorities immediately tightened security at the airport on receipt of the letter, and informed all airlines operating out of the airport, the report said.
According to the Board of Airlines Representatives (BARN), it also received the letter, and has tightened its own security.
The newspaper quoted BARN executive secretary Bishnu Subedi as saying the letter from Chennai said Osama’s men were already in the Nepalese capital.
He confirmed that the letter BARN received also stated Osama’s men planned to hijack an aircraft from Kathmandu and steer it into one of three targets in New Delhi.
Two of the three New Delhi institutions targeted were the US embassy and the Indian prime minister’s residence, the reports said.
The Himalayan kingdom’s flag carrier Royal Nepal Airlines has already put new security measures in place, including additional security checks at the stairs before boarding the aircraft.
Rajesh Raj Dali, the chief executive of the airlines, was quoted as saying, “We will further increase security measures based upon the threat perception.”
Other airlines, according to the newspaper, “are also scrambling to tighten security of their own”.
BARN’s Subedi said new security measures by individual airlines would be effective “in a few days”.
The letter from Chennai could be nothing more than a hoax, said Subedi, “but it is wise to be alert”.—dpa