- Associated Press - Friday, December 24, 2010

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Police searched India’s financial capital on Friday for four men who authorities believe entered Mumbai to carry out a terrorist attack, a top police official said.

Authorities issued a terror alert for the city, where a three-day terrorist seige in 2008 killed 166 people. Since then, police tend to take even minor threats seriously and have periodically raised the alarm, but there have been no subsequent attacks in the city. Despite checkpoints and some road closures, traffic and activity in most of Mumbai was normal on Friday.

Police have received credible information that at least four men belonging to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group have entered the city and were planning to strike during the holiday season, said Himanshu Roy, joint police commissioner of Mumbai Police. India blames Lashkar for the 2008 assaults.

“The four men are planning violent attacks that are going to cause destruction,” Roy said. “The four have recently arrived in Mumbai. We believe the threat is serious.”

Pakistani officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Friday, police set up checkpoints along major roads in the city, put additional men on patrol duty at public places and released computer photographs of the four suspects.

Roads were also closed near the Taj Mahal hotel and Mumbai’s iconic landmark Gateway of India. In addition to being India’s financial capital, Mumbai is also home to Bollywood, the country’s prolific film industry.

He identified the four men but said their nationalities were not known.

In March, Mumbai police said they prevented a major terrorist strike after they arrested two Indian men, who, police said, were preparing to hit several targets in the city.

Then in September, police issued a terror alert for the city during a popular Hindu festival. Police said they had information that two Islamist militants were planning a terror strike and that the men were acting on directions from handlers in Pakistan.

India has called on Pakistan to crack down on terrorists thought to be operating from their soil. Lashkar-e-Taiba is banned by Pakistan’s government but it still thought to have support in Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence community.

In the 2008 attack, several gunmen laid siege to two luxury hotels — including the Taj Mahal — a Jewish center, a popular restaurant and Mumbai’s crowded main train station. The lone surviving gunman was captured and earlier this year sentenced to death.

New Delhi has repeatedly accused Islamabad of complicity in terrorist attacks against India. Pakistan denies the charge saying it only offers the militant groups political and diplomatic support.

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