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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 16:35 GMT
'Grave threat' to India's security
From left: PM Vajpayee, Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, Deputy PM Advani
Deputy PM Advani (right) is said to have been a target
India's internal security situation is "extremely grave", Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani has said.

His comments came as police in western Gujarat state said they had killed a man who was planning to assassinate senior politicians, including Mr Advani.

Police fired in self-defence

DG Vanzara
deputy police commissioner
Mr Advani told journalists: "Cross-border terrorism has pushed the internal security position to a war-like situation.

"The fact that India is a democratic country", he stressed, "does not mean that it is a soft nation."

Shoot-out

The man killed by police was named as Sadiq Jamaal, allegedly affiliated to the Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group, the police said.

Jamaal was said to be plotting to kill in addtion to Mr Advani, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and leader of the right-wing Hindu VHP movement, Praveen Togadia.

He was shot dead in an exchange of fire in Ahmedabad, the state's commercial capital.

It was the second time in a month that police have shot dead a Muslim accused of being part of a plot to kill Indian politicians.

Underworld claim

The Joint Commissioner of Police in Ahmedabad, PP Pandey, said Sadiq Jamaal was from Bhavnagar district in Gujarat and was working for the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI.

He also alleged that Jamaal had been in contact with several members of the Bombay underworld while in Dubai, where he had been living since 2001.

The police said intelligence information available to them suggested that Jamaal was planning to meet acquaintances in the Naroda area of Ahmedabad.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) said that police went to his hideout on the basis of the tip-off and a shoot-out ensued in which Jamaal was killed.

Lashkar-e-Toiba is one of the groups fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir.

It was blamed by India for an attack on parliament in Delhi in December 2001, which brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

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