Alert in Kerala after intel report on IS boat

72 police stations asked to step up vigil

The Kerala police have sounded a coastal alert following an intelligence report that 15 people with ties to the Islamic State (IS) have left Sri Lanka in a “white boat” bound for the Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands, 400 km off Kochi.

In a May 23 communiqué to his officers, Additional Director-General of Police, Coastal Security, Tomin Thachankery said the group had started its journey under “mysterious circumstances”. He directed the heads of 72 police stations that dot the 580 km coastline to step up vigil against any possible intrusion by “non-native” boats.

Mr. Thachankery asked his officers to maintain “extreme vigilance” and alert fisherfolk and residents. He ordered his officers to patrol the shoreline intensively.

A senior officer said various agencies had generated the intelligence from “written and visual claims,” with a “high” probability that the information could be “definitive”. But the police were tight-lipped about their sources.

In Thiruvananthapuram, police carried out inspections at lodges and hotels to ensure that no unknown person had checked in.

At Vizhinjam, where work is apace on a new port, police commandeered fishing boats and patrolled the coast in the company of fishermen. In harbours and fish landing centres across Kerala, the police have been verifying the identity of berthed vessels. They have also enlisted the help of boat owners to alert fishermen already at sea.

The Coast Guard and Navy had also been alerted through official channels, police officials said.

Separately, the State police said they were waiting for a detailed advisory from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to determine whether the perpetrators of the bombings in Sri Lanka had sympathisers in Kerala.

Last month, the NIA had arrested a 29-year-old man from Palakkad on suspicion of having plotted a suicide bombing in Kerala.

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