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DNA Exclusive: 'Terrorists may use animals as 'suicide bombers' to attack during Republic Day'

Central intelligence agencies have warned anti-terror units in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad that terrorist cells may use animals as ‘suicide bombers’ to execute terror operations during Republic Day celebrations.

The input highlighting a change in terror techniques suggests that pets, covered in warm clothing during winter seasons, could easily carry explosive vests underneath to blow up the targets. Sources further stated that pets like cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs can be used to carry out a terror strike.

Documents accessed by DNA also stated, “There are threats from surgically implanted explosives or explosive materials in human or any animals.” These animals can be used at places with high footfalls, vital installations, railway stations and airports across the cities to carry out terror attacks.

Sources also said that the intelligence agencies also directed the security agencies responsible for Republic Day security to intensely examine their dog squads for any kind of infiltration. “The Islamic State (IS) was the first terror outfit which had used chickens as suicide bombers to target the government forces in Syria,” said a senior intelligence officer.

Intelligence agencies have written a missive to Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, airport authorities, Director Generals of Police, paramilitary forces and other stakeholders on January 6, this year.

The recent input indicates that terror cells are getting more innovative in the selection of weapon to strike at will, at any chosen target with a potential to cause mass casualties employing a modus operandi already observed in war-torn Syria. It also suggests that domestic terror outfits are running low on fidayeen recruitment. Sources said once the animal carrying bomb vests wandered off into target areas, a remote control could be used to set off the explosive to cause maximum damage.

The security agencies have also warned officials to keep a strict watch on terror outfits who could implant explosives through surgical means in humans and animals. Furthermore, the agencies also stated they should keep an eye on stray dogs.

The input directed the security agencies—deployed at airports—to maintain “strict ground monitoring of regulatory guidelines for operations of non-conventional aerial platforms like mirolite aircraft, paragliders, aero-models, unmanned aerial vehicles and systems, drones and hot air balloons.” Moreover, it also stated that the pets carried by passengers at railways stations also need to be monitored and stray dogs with vests need to be checked as precautionary measures.

Following the alert, a recent high-level meeting headed by Delhi Police Chief Alok Kumar Verma was conducted to take stock of the security measures for the Republic Day celebrations. In a 42-point directive, Verma has asked his men to keep a tap on hotels, bars, restaurants, guest houses and motels to keep track on all the suspicious persons and report the same to their nearest police station.

Verma has also directed his officers to ensure that all personnel assigned the job of security for the Republic Day celebrations should familarise themselves with each other in their respective districts for quick response to deal with any untoward incidents.

The officer also said that directions have been issued to be very careful about the movement of vehicles from across the Yamuna river to Delhi in Outer, East, Shahdara and North East districts.