Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Militants probe in India blast hunt

An injured person is attended to at a hospital after deadly blasts in Hyderabad. (AP)
Mourners carry the coffin of bomb victim Aijaz Ahmed during his funeral in Hyderabad (AP)

Indian police are investigating whether a shadowy Islamic militant group was responsible for a dual bomb attack that killed 16 people outside a cinema and a bus station in the southern city of Hyderabad.

The group, the Indian Mujahideen, is thought to have links with militants in neighbouring Pakistan. India's recent execution of an Islamic militant is being examined as a possible motive for the bombings, said a police official. Police have not detained anyone in connection with yesterday's attacks, the first major terror bombings in India since 2011.

According to a New Delhi police report, two suspected Indian Mujahideen militants who were arrested last year said during questioning that they had done reconnaissance of Dilsukh Nagar, the Hyderabad district where the blasts occurred. They had also visited various spots in New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told India's Parliament that in response to the "cowardly terror attack," the government will "make all efforts to apprehend the perpetrators and masterminds behind the blast and ensure that they are punished as per the law".

Earlier today, as he toured the site of the bombings, Mr Shinde said there had been a general alert about the possibility of an attack somewhere in India for the past three days. "But there was no specific intelligence about a particular place," he said.

The bombs were attached to two bicycles about 150 metres apart in Hyderabad's Dilsukh Nagar district. He said in addition to the 16 dead, 117 others were injured.

The bombs exploded minutes apart in a crowded shopping area. The blasts shattered storefronts, scattered food and plates from roadside restaurants and left tangles of dead bodies. Passers-by rushed the wounded to hospitals.

Top state police officer V. Dinesh Reddy said improvised explosive devices with nitrogen compound were used in the blasts, which he blamed on a "terrorist network."

Police with cameras, gloves and plastic evidence bags used pointers to gingerly look through the debris. Officials from the National Investigation Agency and commandos of the National Security Guards arrived from New Delhi to help with the investigation.

India has been under a heightened state of alert for nearly two weeks, since Kashmiri militant Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged for his involvement in a 2001 attack on India's Parliament that killed 14 people, including five of the gunmen. Since the execution, near-daily protests have rocked Indian-ruled Kashmir, where many people believe Guru did not receive a fair trial.

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