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Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

S Asia New Year festivity subdued

Soldiers in Mumbai
There is tight security at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai

South Asia faces muted festivities for New Year as India recovers from Mumbai, Bangladesh goes on post-poll alert and Pakistan marks Islamic mourning.

Many Indian cities have tighter security and roadblocks, with the mood in the normally festive city of Mumbai described as subdued.

Pakistan is marking the Muslim mourning month of Muharram.

In Bangladesh's capital, thousands of police have been deployed as a precaution after this week's election.

Last month's attacks in India's financial capital left more than 170 people dead.

Police are keeping a close eye on Mumbai's boat parties with partygoers not allowed to return to shore once their festivities are under way.

The city's attackers slipped ashore via the sea.

Joint police commissioner KL Prasad said: "It may create a sense of fear among the crowd if they see somebody alighting from the boat."

He added: "Extra forces have been called and there will be an increased police presence throughout Mumbai. This year, the mood is likely to be a bit subdued."

Tourists in Goa
Tourism in Goa has suffered badly since Mumbai

One 24-year-old citizen, Nirbhay Kanoria, told Reuters news agency: "It's going to be a quiet evening for me and a bunch of friends at home. We have no plans to party."

The navy has cancelled its annual ball.

In nearby Goa, there has been a clampdown on beach parties with paramilitaries deployed to enhance security.

The tourist haven has been hit hard by the Mumbai attacks.

Hotels are traditionally booked out a month ahead of New Year celebrations but there is a huge slump.

Charles Bonifacio, vice-president of Tour and Travel Association, Goa, said revenue was down by about 40%.

"Most of the big hotels are not doing very well," he said.

Protest rally

Delhi closed landmarks such as Connaught Place and the lawns of India Gate after sunset and about 60,000 police are on duty.

Similar security is in place in Calcutta.

In the western state of Gujarat, students of Saurashtra University cancelled New Year festivities in favour of a massive anti-terrorism rally in Rajkot.

Marriott Hotel Islamabad
No New Year festivities are planned at the Marriott in Islamabad

They carried slogans and photos of the security officers killed in Mumbai.

In Pakistan, many were marking the second day of the Muslim mourning month of Muharram, which commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson in the seventh century.

Jamil Khawar, a spokesman for Islamabad's Marriott Hotel, which was hit by a huge truck bomb last year, said the commemoration meant that "there are no New Year's functions at the hotel".

Hundreds of paramilitaries are policing the beaches of Karachi.

In Bangladesh, 3,000 police are ensuring there are no post-election flare-ups.

The mood in the country has been buoyant in the wake of the first national elections in seven years but the losing Bangladesh Nationalist Party has not yet accepted the result and the country has a history of political street protests.

Dhaka police said they would not prevent festivities that did not disrupt the public.

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