Pune blast: Five detained as probe centres on IM


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DHNS

It is on the basis of the initial findings that supposedly match with earlier intelligence inputs that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram claimed here on Sunday that there was no security failure. Chidambaram said the terrorists chose a “soft target” like German Bakery to trigger the bomb blast unlike “hard targets” like Osho Commune and a Jewish prayer house which are well guarded.

 

Though the Pune blasts have cast a shadow on the upcoming India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level dialogue, New Delhi on Sunday appeared not in a mood to opt for a knee-jerk reaction and immediately call off the talks scheduled for February 25. 

But, government said if any Pakistan-based terrorist organisation was found to be involved in the blast, the proposed talks might suffer a setback and be reduced to a mere token gesture instead of ending post-26/11 diplomatic chill between New Delhi and Islamabad.  

 

Headley angle

Saturday’s blast is the first major terror strike after Chidambaram assumed near-complete control over internal security and he lost little time in reaching Pune on Sunday morning, accompanied by Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and state home minister R R Patil. He inspected the blast site and later visited three hospitals where the injured were being treated.

 

“David Headley had surveyed the Chabad House, that is a fact. At the moment, it is a stand-alone fact. Whether this particular incident is related to that, it is premature to answer that. We have to wait for the investigation to find out who perhaps is behind this incident,” Chidambaram said.

 

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in Chennai that he did not “wish to comment on the talks right now” and that the government would take a view once the investigation report came in. 

 

He, however, added that people were well-aware of the fact that “dark forces of terrorism” were against the “peace and amity between nations.”

 

Chidambaram, too, declined to speculate on the impact of the blast on the talks. 

While investigators are probing all possible angles into the blast, which the has the potential to derail the Indo-Pak talks, they are believed to have found clues that Bhatkal lived in Pune for four years before crossing over to Pakistan. 

Riyaz is said to be involved in several blasts that occured in the country in 2008 and his whereabouts were by another terrorist Khwaja Ahmed, an IM operative, who was picked up by the Hyderabad police a fortnight ago. 

 

The police and intelligence agencies have confirmed that the RDX and ammonium nitrate were used to carry out Saturday’s blast at German Bakery. 

 

It was Khwaja who revealed the import of RDX from Bangladesh and that two terrorists had sneaked into the country on the eve of Republic Day. Soon after the blast, the Pune police concentrated their search at Hotel Hub in Koregaon Park and detained five persons from the hotel for interrogation.

 

It is now confirmed that no Jewish or Israeli citizen was killed in the blast. The police met a Jewish Rabbi and his wife associated with Chhabad House near the bakery, but he told them that no Jew was hurt or killed.

 

So far, only three bodies have been identified, while the identification of other bodies was still going on. Most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition. Among the injured, four are Iranians, two Sudanese, one Taiwanese, one German and two Nepalese.

 

According to an unconfirmed report, a woman had come in an auto rickshaw in the evening and handed over her bag to a bakery waiter. She then immediately went away in the rickshaw. It was unclear whether it was the same bag that exploded later. The police have located the rickshaw.

 

Suspicion

The IM is the first suspect for the Pune blast, although no one has taken responsibility for the terror attack so far. 

 

It is suspected that the IM is nothing but a reincarnation of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India. 

 

Evidence collected from the blast has the “trademark” of the IM, such as use of plastic explosives and the selection of the target. 

 

The group is blamed for the serial blasts in Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow on November 23, 2007 that killed 13 people. It is also blamed for the May 2008 serial bombing in Jaipur that killed 63 people. The July 26, 2008 terror attack in Ahmedabad that killed 46 people was also the IM’s handiwork.

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