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Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 13:16 GMT
Security increased at Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is said to face a new threat
Security has been stepped up at India's revered Taj Mahal while police investigate an alleged threat by Kashmiri separatists to blow it up.

Last weekend, officials said the white marble mausoleum - one of the world's most famous buildings - would be covered in dark cloth to protect against possible bombing raids in the event of war with neighbouring Pakistan.

We cannot even think of blowing up the Taj Mahal. We are even opposed to attacks on Hindu temples or any place of worship of any other religion

Laskhar-e-Toiba spokesman
Police now say they are investigating an e-mail - believed to have been sent by a Kashmiri separatist militant group, Laskhar-e-Toiba - threatening to attack the celebrated monument.

A spokesman for the group, Abdullah Sayyaf, denied the organisation had issued such a threat, saying the allegations were Indian propaganda to discredit it.

He said his group opposed attacks against Hindu temples or any other places of worship.

Lashkar-e-Toiba is one of two militant organisations which India blames for last month's attack on the parliament complex in Delhi.

"We have already updated security arrangements, but in view of the new threat, plans are afoot to have some more measures," said Agra police chief R.R. Bhatnagar.

Taj Mahal
The mausoleum took 22 years to build
Last week officials said they would try to hide the 17th century mausoleum's dome and four minarets from any Pakistani air strike.

An Indian air base is located near the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra.

The Taj Mahal - a huge draw for tourists from across the world - has been the subject of security fears before. It has been closed at night since 1984, when Sikh militants threatened to attack it.

The monument was built by Emperor Shah Jehan to perpetuate the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1630.

See also:

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Hotel group bails out Taj Mahal
10 Nov 00 | Media reports
Taj Mahal disappears under magic spell
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Taj Mahal pollution plea
24 Dec 99 | South Asia
Full moon vision of the Taj
17 Dec 99 | South Asia
Taj nights face legal challenge
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