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Shooting puts New Delhi on high alert ahead of Commonwealth Games

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-20

After widespread allegations of poor stadium construction and rampant corruption, preparations for India's first Commonwealth Games, which open in New Delhi on Oct. 3, have been rattled by a gunfire attack on tourists in the Indian capital.

AP - Police increased patrols across New Delhi on Monday, one day after unidentified gunmen shot and wounded two tourists and raised concerns about security less than two weeks before the Commonwealth Games open in the Indian capital.

Police have launched a massive manhunt for the gunmen, with roadblocks set up on key roads, especially near stadiums and smaller sports venues. Additional policemen were also visible on the streets, particularly in tourist areas.

The manhunt came after two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and wounded two Taiwanese tourists Sunday near the Jama Masjid, one of India's biggest mosques and a popular tourist destination. The two men were recovering from their injuries and were expected to leave the hospital later this week.

But police were still in the dark about the perpetrators, said Rajan Bhagat, the New Delhi police spokesman, and officials refused to link the attack to the Commonwealth Games. "No organized group appears to be involved in the shooting,'' Bhagat said Monday. "We have made no arrests.''

Preparations for the games have long been marred by allegations of shoddy stadium construction, missed deadlines and rampant corruption. But ensuring security for the high-profile games has emerged as the biggest challenge for Indian authorities, who are anxious to project the event as a reflection of India's growing economic and international clout.

India has scores of militant groups from tiny ethnic movements to well-trained insurgent armies leaving any number of suspects. An Islamic militant group sent an e-mail to the BBC's Hindi language service after the attack, taking responsibility for the shooting and threatening to attack the games. Officials have said they had no information about the e-mail.

More than 7,000 athletes and officials from the former British empire are to compete in the Oct. 3-14 event, which is held every four years. A high security alert has been ordered in New Delhi and Mumbai, India's financial capital, with all cars and trucks entering the cities being screened, a police official said Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Parking of cars outside stadiums, other games' venues and prominent buildings in New Delhi has been banned, the official said. Games officials assured member nations Monday about the safety of athletes.

"There has been a lot of media speculation, but there is yet no evidence to suggest that the attack had anything to do with the Commonwealth Games,'' said Mike Hooper, CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

"The security forces continue to reassess the situation and take more steps if they think it right. I am sure the safety and security will be taken care of as promised,'' Hooper told The Associated Press.

Date created : 2010-09-20

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