Tightest ever security net for summit

By Leon Berenger

At least 12,000 police officers backed by the armed forces and home guards will form one of the largest ever security dragnets in the country since independence for the South Asian summit in Colombo later this month.

Several security measures from searches to surveillance have already gone into place in the city and suburbs with the authorities taking no chances, Senior DIG Nimal Mediwaka said. He said police officers from within the metropolis and the outstations would be pressed into service throughout the period of the summit, and they would be assisted by the armed forces.

Apart from the local security setup, hundreds of foreign police and security forces personnel, largely from India are also listed to arrive in the country shortly to provide security cover for their respective heads of state or government with the coordination of the local authorities.

Surveillance at the Bandaranaike International Airport has also been stepped up mainly to monitor persons entering the country ahead of the summit. Officials, however, said there would be no disturbance to the normal flow of traffic.

According to police sources, several measures have already been implemented at the airport, but they refused to elaborate for obvious reasons, only to say that they were working closely with the internal security staff. The police were also constantly in touch with Interpol, the sources added.

Airport Security Chief Dhammika Weerasooriya said their surveillance teams had been ordered to be on top alert during the summit period. “We always maintain a high state of alert, but we will be taking some extra precautions for the summit period,” he said. Some of the visiting leaders participating in the summit are also on the hit list of international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda.

Apart from the security arrangements on the ground the Indian authorities are reported to have decided to berth three warships within the territorial waters of Colombo as an added security measure.

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