M A I N   N E W S

No clear leads; suicide bomber angle emerges
Chidambaram says no intel inputs on strikes; timer devices used to set off bombs
Shiv Kumar/Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Mumbai/New Delhi, July 14
Day after the deadly triple blasts in Mumbai, investigators on Thursday said “all groups hostile to India " were under the scanner and did not rule out involvement of a suicide bomber in the terror strikes.

However, no specific leads emerged and authorities did not want to speculate on who could be involved. “All angles are being probed,” they merely said.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram made it clear that it was too early "to point a finger at any one group". He though admitted that the Central intelligence agencies had no clue about the blasts. "There was no specific intelligence input on this," Chidambaram told reporters in Mumbai.

"The perpetrators have attacked and have worked in a very, very clandestine manner. Maybe it’s a very small group, maybe they did not communicate with each other," the Home Minister said.

He said all groups “hostile to India” are on the “radar.” The minister revised the death toll to 18 and put the number of injured at 113, of which 23 are in a critical condition.

Chidambaram said ammonium nitrate, an explosive substance, was used in the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) triggered by timer devices to carry out the “well-coordinated” attack.

He however, ruled out the use of remote control to trigger the blasts in Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar areas. Union Home Secretary RK Singh did not rule out the involvement of a suicide bomber. "The NSG DG has informed that a body with circuit has been found from one of the blast sites. The head and other parts of the body were taken to the JJ Hospital by passersby and police shortly after the blasts. We are not ruling out anything,” he told reporters in New Delhi.

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria said it was too early to say whether a "human bomb" was involved. "I cannot say if the head is that of a suicide bomber," he said. “As nobody has come to claim the body, we still have to ascertain its identity. The remaining 17 bodies have been identified,” officials said. Doctors at the JJ Hospital say that the impact of the blasts could have carried metals and wires into the bodies of people nearby.

On the possibility of a cross-border link to yesterday's blasts, Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry, UK Bansal said: “As of now, there is no ground to believe that there is any link of anyone from across the border."

To a query on who could be behind the blasts, Bansal said as of now the investigators were not in a position to tell with confidence which militant group was involved in it. “As of now there is no lead about any particular group. That is why we are probing into all angles and all groups are under radar and everyone is considered as a suspect,” he said.

"We are also looking into those groups which carried out similar blasts in the past. We are confident that some lead would emerge soon,” he said. On the possibility of the involvement of underworld in the terror act since such groups were reportedly active in the metropolis in the recent past, Bansal said: "All angles are being probed". Asked whether the explosions were timed to disrupt the Indo-Pak Foreign Minister-level talks this month end, Chidambaram said: “We are not ruling out anything. That angle will also be kept in mind."

Maria said the ATS has taken over the investigations and the probe is not confined to any group. CCTV footages from all the blast sites are being examined, he said, adding ATS has formed joint teams with the Crime Branch.

Meanwhile, expanding the scope of the probe, agencies have started questioning some persons who were arrested in Bhopal last month and youths who may be missing from communally sensitive localities in north India in the past few weeks. The international voice over internet protocol (VOIP) operators may also be quizzed to track any calls the suspects may have made to their handlers.

The VOIP is crucial as India does not have ability to track such calls, which were even made by the accused in the 26/11 attack.

The arrested persons in Bhopal are suspected to be Indian Mujahideen operatives. Intense questioning of persons connected to various groups will be carried out, MHA sources said. Sources said sketches of three-four suspects were being prepared with the help of eyewitness at the three blast sites. (With PTI inputs)

Mumbai the day after

Suspected militants interrogated
Police questioned members of a home-grown Islamist militant group for clues to the bomb blasts in Mumbai, officials said on Thursday.The Home Ministry in a statement said that the police were interrogating some Indian Mujahideen members who were arrested some days before the attack, but it had no specific leads on who could be responsible.

PM, Sonia in Mumbai
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the government "will do everything in its power" to prevent Mumbai-type terrorist attacks. In his statement on arrival here on Thursday evening, Manmohan Singh said: “I assure the people that the government will do everything in its power to prevent such attacks in the future." "In the final analysis, it is the unity and strength of the people that will defeat these efforts to divide our people and destroy our civilized way of life,” said the prime minister, who is accompanied by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. During his visit, Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit the injured people undergoing treatment.

Ex GRATIA relief
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday announced an ex-gratia assistance of Rs two lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in Mumbai blasts. He also announced an assistance of Rs one lakh for those seriously injured.

Deadly cocktail
The bombs that wreaked havoc in Mumbai the previous night may have been a deadly mix of ammonium nitrate, explosive TNT, oil and ball bearings preliminary investigations revealed on Thursday. The sources said forensic experts had collected traces of ammonium nitrate, fuel, TNT and ball bearings from the blast sites. They said that evidence from the sites suggested that battery power was used to trigger the blasts for which at least seven improvised explosive devices have been used.





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