India: Security stepped up at Taj Mahal after reports of terror threat from Islamic State

Agra will host the Taj Mahotsav, a 10-day festival, from March 18. Photograph:( Twitter )

WION Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India Mar 16, 2017, 07.48 PM (IST)

Security was stepped up on Thursday at India's iconic Taj Mahal after media reports of the Agra monument being the target of a terror attack by the Islamic State (IS) surfaced.

The SITE intelligence group, which tracks jihadist activity on the web, carried a graphic, originally published by the pro-IS Ahwaal Ummat Media Center, depicting the Taj Mahal as a target. The graphic was posted on the encrypted messaging app Telegram on March 14.

The graphic features a man in combat gear, armed with an assault rifle and a rocket-propelled grenade standing near the Taj Mahal. A tagline in the graphic reads 'Next target'.

An image of a vehicle with the Arabic text “Agra istishhadi” (Agra martyrdom-seeker) written in English is also being interpreted as a warning of a potential attack.

Following the report, a security drill, by Taj Mahal security personnel, police, teams from the bomb disposal squad and the US SWAT SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) personnel was conducted at the monument.

Superintendent of police (SP) Sushil Ghule was quoted as saying that the exercise was a part of a regular security drill associated with the Taj Mahotsav to be held this week. 

SSP Preetinder Singh, however, admitted that the security measures had been undertaken in view of reports of the IS threat to the monument.

Agra will host the Taj Mahotsav, a 10-day festival, from March 18.