Sun, Mar 12, 2006 - Page 4 News List

India detains four men in attacks on holy city

AGENCIES , VARANASI AND MUMBAI

Indian police have detained four men for questioning about bombings that killed 20 people at a temple and train station in Hinduism's holiest city, a top state official said yesterday.

Two of them resembled the sketches of two suspects issued earlier by police, said Alok Sinha, a top Home Ministry official in Uttar Pradesh state. The other two, also picked up in the state on Friday night, were their acquaintances, he said.

Local residents alerted police after spotting the men in Hardoi, a town in Uttar Pradesh state nearly 335km southeast of New Delhi, Sinha told reporters.

All the four are from neighboring Bihar state, Sinha said.

Meanwhile, about 150 Hindu and Muslim residents marched yesterday through the streets of Varanasi, a city famed for its shrines on the banks of the Ganges River, shouting slogans against terrorism and urging Pakistan to foster friendship with India.

"Pakistan, end terrorism from Kashmir to Kashi [Varanasi]," they chanted at the march organized by the Human Welfare Association, a non-governmental organization that is involved in educating 1,700 poor children in Varanasi.

"The purpose of the rally is to preserve amity between Hindus and Muslims," said Rajni Kant, director of the association.

Naushaba, a Muslim counselor who uses one name, said she participated in the march to promote peace in the city.

On Friday, a senior police official said a Kashmiri militant killed by officers in northern India hours after Tuesday's bombings was suspected of masterminding the attack on a temple and train station in Varanasi.

The dead man -- identified only as Salim -- ran the operations of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a Kashmiri militant group, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Varanasi is located, said Yashpal Singh, the state's top officer.

A previously unknown Kashmiri group took credit for the bombings. But Singh said there were "strong indications" the attack was the work of Lashkar, the best-known militant group fighting to wrest predominantly Muslim Kashmir from largely Hindu India.

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