The US embassy warned yesterday that two Indian cities could be targeted by al-Qaeda militants ahead of next week's Independence Day celebrations, prompting a high security alert.
"The embassy has learned that foreign terrorists, possibly including members of al-Qaeda, allegedly intend to carry out a series of bombing attacks in or around New Delhi and Mumbai in the days leading up to India's Independence Day," the US embassy said in a statement on its website.
"Likely targets include major airports, key central Indian government offices, and major gathering places such as hotels and markets," the statement said. "The embassy urges American citizens to maintain a low profile and be especially alert and attentive to their surroundings during this period."
Embassy spokesman David Kennedy told the CNN network that the information was based on intelligence inputs gathered along with the Indian government.
Indian authorities immediately raised the alert in the capital New Delhi and Mumbai, which were already under heightened security for the Aug. 15 celebrations -- often targeted by Islamic militants opposed to New Delhi's rule in Kashmir.
Police, meanwhile, announced the overnight arrest of two men at New Delhi railway station allegedly carrying a quantity of explosives.
Police said the pair, one of them a Pakistani national, had links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamic militant group which is engaged in guerrilla warfare with Indian troops in disputed Kashmir.