Sunday, September 28, 2008

India police arrest 'militants'

Mumbai police with three of the arrested 'militants'
Police say all the arrested men are in their 30s

Indian police say they have arrested the leader of an Islamic militant group which has claimed responsibility for recent bomb blasts in two cities.

Mohammed Arif Sheikh, described as the founder of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), was arrested along with four others, police in Mumbai (Bombay) said.

Explosives, ammunition and detonators were also seized. Police said the group was planning attacks in Mumbai.

Nearly 70 people died in bombings in Ahmedabad in July and Delhi this month.

'Conspiracy'

"A threat mail received at the time of the Delhi blasts had a warning about Mumbai," city police chief Hassan Gafoor told a press conference on Wednesday.

"The arrests and the seizure of explosive substances prove that a conspiracy to terrorise Mumbai was being hatched," he said.

BOMB ATTACKS IN INDIA IN 2008
13 September: Five bomb blasts kill 18 in Delhi
26 July: At least 22 small bombs kill 49 in Ahmedabad
25 July: Seven bombs go off in Bangalore killing two people
13 May: Seven bomb hit markets and crowded streets in Jaipur killing 63

Besides Sheikh, Mr Gafoor identified the arrested men as Afzal Usmani, Mohammed Sadiq Sheikh, Mohammed Afzal Sheikh and Sheikh Mohammed Ansar.

All five men are in their 30s and they have "received training in a hostile country", Mr Gafoor said in an obvious reference to Pakistan.

Several Indian cities, including Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Bangalore, have been hit by a spate of bombings this year.

At least 20 people died in Delhi when five bombs exploded in the city's busy shopping areas on 13 September.

Nearly 50 people were killed in blasts in Ahmedabad in July.

Last week, India announced plans to upgrade its intelligence gathering ability.

The government has been accused of failing to track down shadowy groups that set off bombs in Indian cities.

Since late 2005, more than 400 people have died in bombings in Indian cities.

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