Saturday, September 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Temple attackers were Pakistanis
Probe makes headway as two held in Gujarat

Gandhinagar, September 27
In a breakthrough, the Gujarat police today detained two persons in connection with the September 24 terrorist attack at Akshardham here and also traced the white Ambassador taxi that had taken them to the shrine.

While confirming that two persons had been held and were being interrogated, Minister of State for Home Gordhan Jhadafiya declined to identify them “at the moment’’, saying that they may not have been directly involved in the crime. Possibly, their vehicle may have merely been hired by terrorists, he added.

Mr Jhadafiya declined to comment when asked about speculations that those detained were the driver and owner of a taxi hired by the terrorists at the Ahmedabad railway station on September 24 on their arrival by the Howrah Express around 3 pm the same day.

When queried if the driver had been taken to the Civil Hospital, Gandhinagar, where he “identified’’ bodies of the two slain terrorists, he refused to comment.

Director-General of Police K. Chakravarthy, who is heading the high-level probe team, also refused to comment on these speculative reports, merely saying that the investigations were in progress.

Meanwhile, a report from New Delhi said the two terrorists who took Akshardham under siege have been identified as the Pakistanis by the security agencies probing the attack, senior sources in the Home Ministry confirmed today.

The two terrorists who had managed to enter the temple premises with a huge cache of arms and ammunition have been identified as Mohammed Amjad Bhai of Lahore and Hafiz Yasir of Attock.

The two terrorists were gunned down by the National Security Guard commandos who had been flown in from New Delhi.

The security agencies are not yet certain about the militant outfit these two belonged to, particularly since no group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. Some leaflets found in their possession appeared to belong to a group called the Tehrik-e-Kasas. One report said they had links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jagmohan said today it was now clear that Pakistan had lent support to the terrorist attack on Akshardham.

He said it was obvious that Pakistan was giving help to terrorists, and wondered why “no one calls a spade a spade.”

The minister was speaking at the inaugural function of the 38th convention of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, where Minister of State for Tourism Vinod Khanna was also present.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral has said it is impossible to have talks with Pakistan when ‘’the gun is held at our temple,’’ indirectly indicating Pakistan’s role in the Akshardham attack.

“Talks with the neighbour can be resumed only if cross-border terrorism is stopped,’’ Mr Gujral said. UNI


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