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Londeners stay home as thousands of VIPs come in


London, April 1, 2009 (ANI)
It is a glorified house arrest. No less. For those who need to commute to work to downtown London on 1st or 2nd it is going to be a harrowing exercise. Everybody has been advised to carry as many forms of identification as they possess. Roads are blocked, thousands of policemen are patrolling the streets, presidential cavalcades are speeding down roads, potential protest demonstration sites are being sanitized of public movement, banks and government institutions are being guarded with particular emphasis
At the Excel centre where the meetings will take place, the security is so difficult that residents living in the area might as well not step out. The Dockland Railway Stations will be closed near the centre. The security exercise is the most complex and vast one ever undertaken by the Scotland Yard. And the most expensive one too. The guesstimates are about 7.5 million pounds for the two-day summit.
Already there is a severe level of alert, which means that officials believe that an attack is highly likely. What or who could be the target is anybody's guess. The most protected man of course is the US President Barack Obama. Traveling with the President are over 200 secret service personnel who protect him round the clock. The first lady has her own guards. Obama has also flown his armour-plated limousine known as the beast.
Other more lowly heads of state of rich nations have strict security measures in place but of course none can match up to the US president's security apparatus. It’s not only the dignitaries whose security is causing worry. Also under threat are Banks and luxury hotels. After the Mumbai attacks, hotels in London have carried out security drills, installed CCTVs and are cooperating with the met police department reporting any suspicious activity.
About 5,000 police are stationed all across central London, and an additional 35,000 policemen are on standby for the summit on Thursday. They will mainly fan out at the docks region where the summit is being held and the financial district. Some leaflets were found last week urging protestors and demonstrators t "Bash a Banker" or "Storm the Banks". Consequently banks have increased security and have conducted drills to evacuate and seal their premises in the event of a protest demonstration turning violent in their premises. Some banks will only have their essential staff coming in to duty on 1st and 2nd in downtown areas. Multi national companies have cancelled all conferences for the entire week.
Terror groups could also use the garb of being regular protestors and mount attacks.
Protesters have threatened to train their anger on the city's financial center, urging demonstrators to "Bash A Banker" and "Storm The Banks" in leaflets promoting their rallies.

Banks and hotels have prepared for attempted raids or sieges on their buildings, said Pepe Egger, a senior security analyst at London's Exclusive Analysis Ltd.

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I am the Editor News, at Asian News International (ANI), Indias leading Multimedia News Agency and the India Correspondent for Channel News Asia, a Singapore based broadcaster.
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