Security officers warn of Mumbai-style attacks as G20 summit nears

March 21st, 2009 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh London, March 21 (IANS) Terrorists could launch Mumbai-style attacks on British luxury hotels, the country’s senior anti-terrorism officers have warned ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) summit expected to be attended by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Security services officials say the terrorist threat to Britain is at the “severe end of severe” in an assessment quoted Saturday by the Daily Telegraph just days before the April 2 summit, which will also be attended by US President Barack Obama.

The paper said senior British counter-terrorism officers are highly concerned about the possibility of attacks on major hotels and other public buildings by terrorists using automatic weapons.

“This marks a change in the challenge posed to the security services, which have previously focussed on preventing bombings,” the newspaper said, adding last year’s Mumbai attacks have prompted anti-terror officers to watch for any increase in small arms being smuggled into Britain through ports or remote airfields, where security is more lax.

Officials are also considering issuing guidance to the management of hotels, businesses and other buildings where people gather in large numbers about the best way to protect against a terrorist attack.

Security sources told The Daily Telegraph that the threat of terrorist attack is now reckoned to be at the top end of “severe”, the third of four risk levels which rate an attack “highly likely”.

The only higher rating would be “critical” which means that an attack “is expected imminently”.

Chris Grayling, the opposition Conservative Party’s shadow Home Secretary, said: “The government is right that the horrific events in Mumbai have highlighted the need for a different strategy in counter-terrorism.

“No part of the UK is free from threat - and we know that terrorists want soft targets.”

Patrick Mercer, chairman of the British parliament’s anti-terrorism sub-committee, pointed to the increased risk of attacks outside London, saying: “My greatest concern is that the regions should get the same level of attention as that which London does because that is where the terrorist will concentrate.”

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