Image: Indian police officers near Taj Mahal hotel
Rajanish Kakade  /  AP
Indian police officers check a bag of a man outside the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai on Friday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 12/24/2010 10:42:10 AM ET 2010-12-24T15:42:10

Police launched a manhunt in India's financial and entertainment capital Friday for alleged Pakistani militants authorities believe entered Mumbai to carry out a terrorist attack, a police official said.

Police said they had received credible information that at least four men belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group had entered the city and were planning to strike during the holiday season, said Himanshu Roy, joint police commissioner of Mumbai Police.

Police set up checkpoints along major roads in the city, put additional men on patrol duty at public places and released computer photographs of the four suspects.

"It is going to be a violent attack which will cause disruptions," Roy said, releasing the sketch of one of the four suspected militants.

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The four men were named as Abdul Karim Musa, Noor Abul Elahi, Walid Jinnah and Mehfooz Alam.

"They have recently arrived in Mumbai. We are not in a position to reveal their nationalities now but they are LeT members," he said.

Indian authorities blame LeT for a deadly three-day terror attack in Mumbai in November 2008 in which 166 people were killed.

A U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the possibility LeT might attempt to strike over the holidays.

"There's no question LeT remains interested in pulling off another large-scale attack in India, and we are alert to the possibility that LeT might again try a holiday attack," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An attack originating from Pakistani soil could force a swift Indian response, destabilizing regional security.

City appears normal
Roads were also closed Friday near the Taj Mahal hotel and Mumbai's iconic landmark Gateway of India.

However, traffic was normal and people went about their usual activities in the rest of the city. Mumbai is also home to Bollywood, India's prolific film industry.

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India has called on Pakistan to crack down on terrorists thought to be operating from their soil.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is banned by Pakistan's government but it still thought to have support in Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence community.

In the 2008 attack, several gunmen laid siege to the Taj Mahal hotel, another luxury hotel, a Jewish center, a popular restaurant and Mumbai's crowded main train station.

The lone surviving gunman was captured and earlier this year sentenced to death.

Earlier this month, a bomb in a Hindu temple town killed a child and injured several people. In February, a powerful blast ripped through a restaurant in the western city of Pune, killing 17 people, the first major attack since Mumbai.

Such attacks have fed fears India may never be able to completely secure its cities from attacks by Islamist militants as well as radical Hindu groups.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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