India on high alert for Republic Day

NEW DELHI - Paramilitary soldiers and police set up road blocks and snipers took positions atop government buildings as hundreds of thousands of people celebrated India's national day yesterday.

NEW DELHI - Paramilitary soldiers and police set up road blocks and snipers took positions atop government buildings as hundreds of thousands of people celebrated India's national day yesterday.

India celebrates its Republic Day on January 26, but this year security measures were notched up following intelligence reports of a possible terrorist attack by Islamic militants.

Last week, the Indian government put its airports on high alert amid reports that al-Qaeda-linked militants planned to hijack a plane.

At least 15 000 paramilitary soldiers were deployed in and around the capital of New Delhi to ensure safety along the route of the annual parade - a showcase of Indian military and cultural pomp and the highlight of India's Republic Day festivities, said police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, who is on a four-day official visit to India, was the main guest at the parade.

India is observing the 60th anniversary of the 1950 adoption of its constitution after independence from Britain in 1947.

Islamic militants attempted to cross from Pakistan into Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir early yesterday, a border official said. He accused Pakistani soldiers of firing at border posts to provide cover for the extremists.

A Pakistani military official said that Indian forces fired first. - Sapa-AP

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