Last updated Sunday, August 31, 2014 02:11am

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (pic) promised maximum assistance in the hunt for Flight MH370, but India rejected suggestions today that it could have been the intended target of a 9/11-style attack by the missing jet. — AFP picPrime Minister Manmohan Singh (pic) promised maximum assistance in the hunt for Flight MH370, but India rejected suggestions today that it could have been the intended target of a 9/11-style attack by the missing jet. — AFP picNEW DELHI, March 17 — India rejected suggestions today that it could have been the intended target of a 9/11-style attack by the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised maximum assistance in the massive hunt for Flight MH370, India’s foreign minister said it was vital that the mystery over its fate was cleared up.

But asked by the CNN-IBN network about suggestions that the plane was hijacked with the aim of flying it into an Indian city, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid replied: “I don’t think we have gone that far.”

The speculation was fuelled by former US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott who tweeted that the “direction, fuel load & range now lead some to suspect hijackers planned a 9/11-type attack on an Indian city”.

His comments over the weekend have been widely picked up by the Indian media and Khurshid said people needed answers to allay their fears.

“We hope to come to some conclusion that is both credible and reassuring,” he said.

The Times of India said security sources had “rubbished” the idea that the plane could have got anywhere close to an urban centre and insisted it would have been detected by a naval base on the Andaman islands, more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) off the Indian mainland.

“There is no way our military radars would have missed the airliner as it flew over Andaman Sea, as there is high traffic around that time,” one military intelligence source told the paper.

The US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan meanwhile said it was not looking for the missing plane there, and Islamabad’s Civil Aviation Authority said the flight never appeared on Pakistani radar.

Indian ships and planes scoured the seas off the sprawling Andamans archipelago last week but they suspended their search yesterday as they awaited fresh instructions from Malaysian authorities.

In the Gallery


  • Crew members on board a US Navy P-8A Poseidon man their workstations while assisting in search operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman leaves messages of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Passengers wait at the immigration control at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • An Indian Navy boat patrols in the waters of the Andaman Sea near Port Blair, the capital of India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A young relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 reacts during a meeting with Malaysia Airlines at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A man attempts to call his son, a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, after speaking to the media outside a rest area for relatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 rests at a meeting hall at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A boy stands beside a model posing for pictures during an art performance in support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A man stands in front of a board with messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A man reads newspaper with news about the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 as others have breakfast in Dengkil, near Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Children write messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A model poses for pictures during an art performance in support of the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman adds her message on the clothes of a model during an art performance in support of the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A girl looks at Malaysia Airlines planes through the window of the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A front page picture of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, is seen at a stand as a man buys newspapers in Dengkil, near Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Indian Navy ship INS Kesari, involved in search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, arrives at the naval base in Port Blair, the capital of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Indian Navy ship INS Kesari, involved in search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, arrives at the naval base in Port Blair, the capital of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Students watch as a group of artists put the finishing touches to a three dimensional artwork, based on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, that was painted on a school ground in Makati city, metro Manila March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Students gather around a three dimensional artwork, based on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, that was painted on a school ground in Makati city, metro Manila March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Malaysia Airlines representatives answer questions during a meeting with relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Family members of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vote to talk directly to Malaysian government's representatives during a meeting with the airline's representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A relative of a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 sits on a chair after a meeting with the airline's representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • The daily press conference on the missing MH370 aircraft at Sama Sama Hotel on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Defence and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein holding a map showing the southern corridor at the daily MH370 press conference at the Sama Sama Hotel in KLIA, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Defence and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein holding a map showing the northern corridor at the daily MH370 press conference at the Sama Sama Hotel in KLIA, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Putrajaya March 16, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Pictures of flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, are seen in Putrajaya March 16, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Residents of Boeung Kak Lake light candles to spell "MH370" during a Buddhist ceremony, praying for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, in Phnom Penh March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • INTI College students having a 'Pray for MH370' candlelight vigil organised by the STACT club at INTI International University College Subang Jaya, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • INTI College students having a 'Pray for MH370' candlelight vigil organised by the STACT club at INTI International University College Subang Jaya, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • INTI College students having a 'Pray for MH370' candlelight vigil organised by the STACT club at INTI International University College Subang Jaya, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“Operations are suspended as of now, everything is grounded,” Indian Navy spokesman D.K. Sharma told AFP today.

“Malaysian authorities will now decide and tell us where to go. They have asked us to be on standby for now.

“We are awaiting further instructions. Once we have them, we will move.”

Prime Minister Singh’s office said that his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in a phone call late yesterday, had requested “technical assistance from Indian authorities in corroborating the possible paths that the missing Malaysian airliner might have taken”.

Singh “assured all possible assistance from concerned Indian authorities”, the office said in a statement. — AFP