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March 14, 2010

Commandoes deployed at Kochi 's ancient Jewish synagogue following terror threat

     Kochi: Commandoes were deployed at the synagogue in Kochi, the oldest place of worship of the Jewish community in the country, following a terror alert by the Union Home Ministry. Ten commandoes each and Quick Action Team of the Kerala state police are guarding the synagogue located at Mattancherry area and the St Francis church at Fort Kochi. A terror threat was issued by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit. Union Home Ministry has asked the Kerala Police to review the security at the ancient places of worship, particularly those frequented by foreign tourists. All the entry points are under surveillance and locals were taken aback when their vehicles were thoroughly checked. "I found all the security and commandoes are here. So I asked them what's the reason, they said it was in newspapers that something is going on. Then they said nobody will be allowed from that street to here and nobody can enter this," said Roland , a shopkeeper. The city is on high alert with bomb disposal and dog squads deployed at railway stations, and passengers being frisked. Security has been tightened at the famous Paradesi synagogue, the Kochi shipyard, and other sensitive areas. Coastal surveillance has also been mounted, as the Kochi backwaters are a favourite tourist destination, even as police conducted checks at hotels and lodges. Militants involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks had entered the city by sea. "No one's ever happy to hear that there is a terrorist threat. But it can happen anywhere, and yes it's a shame. But I cannot let it get in the way of living my life, it can happen to anybody, anytime," said Dona, a tourist from the US . The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations . It was built in 1568 by the Cochin Jewish community, believed to be the first settlers in India during the reign of Cochin King, and is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The number of Jewish community is on its end with just below ten remaining in Kochi now, as most of them have either left for Israel.
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