Human intelligence could have averted attacks: Navy officials

November 27th, 2008 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 27 (IANS) A network of human intelligence could have averted the terror attacks in Mumbai, navy officials said, pointing out that the perpetrators had an unchecked entry through the open sea but had run into some fishermen soon after landing at the Sassoon Dock.The terrorists, who wreaked havoc at seven locations in Mumbai Wednesday night, had arrived by a rubber dinghy and moored it at a fisherman’s colony by the beach near Sassoon Dock, eyewitnesses said Thursday.

The Indian Navy launched surveillance operations on the approaches to Mumbai following reports that the terrorists had used a sea route to enter the city.

“The Indian Navy has undertaken surveillance on the approaches to the Mumbai harbour. We have also sought aircraft from the Coast Guard also for patrolling the coastline,” Vice Admiral J.S. Bedi, commander-in-chief of the Indian Navy’s western command, said in Mumbai.

A merchant vessel, which is suspected to have brought terrorists to the city’s harbour, was intercepted Thursday evening but it “came clear”. The surveillance of the coastline will continue throughout the night.

However, navy officials stress the need for more human intelligence as the incident of fishermen spotting the terrorists on Sassoon Dock shows.

According to the account of eyewitnesses that corroborated the version of Maharashtra Deputy chief Minister R.R. Patil, the boat carried 10 terrorists and a large number of what looked like heavy cartons.

According to some fishermen who were near the beach at the time, they got suspicious about the movements of the 10 people who had arrived on the boat.

“Since they did not at all look like fishermen, we asked them what they were unloading on the beach. One of them told us bluntly in Hindi to mind our own business,” said one of the fishermen.

He also revealed that while eight of them alighted from the boat, two went away on the boat.

All the targets in Mumbai are either seafront locations or close to the Arabian Sea.

“The possibility of terrorists using the sea route to enter the city is quite possible as an open sea provides a large area for infiltration. The sea border is very porous. Technology cannot be used to keep an eye on the movement of people or vessels.

“A cultivated network of human intelligence is the need of hour as it would be easier to keep track of any suspicious vessel or person in the vicinity,” a senior navy official said in New Delhi.

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