Sat, Jul 15, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Indian police name another New Delhi bombing suspect

RUMORS Indian press reports that Pakistani intelligence was behind the Delhi attack were dismissed as `baseless' by Pakistan's foreign ministry

AP , MUMBAI

Activists of the All India Shia-Sunni United Front burn an effigy depicting ``terrorism'' during a protest rally against the Mumbai bombing in New Delhi on Thursday. At least 200 people were killed and 772 people injured in seven powerful explosions on the city's suburban train network on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Indian authorities yesterday named a third suspect in this week's train bombings in Mumbai, as the local media said the coordinated attacks that killed 200 people were planned by Pakistan's main intelligence agency. Pakistani authorities have denied the charge.

Mumbai Police Commissioner A.N. Roy said a man known only as Rahil was the third person being sought in connection with the eight blasts in Mumbai's commuter train network during the evening rush hour on Tuesday.

The government's Anti-Terror Squad on Thursday night had released photos of two other suspects, Sayyad Zabiuddin and Zulfeqar Fayyaz. Their nationalities were not given, nor was it clear where the photos of the two young, bearded men originated.

Investigators gave few other details. Officials say they suspect the Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which operates in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory at the center of the long-running India-Pakistan conflict.

A Lashkar-e-Tayyaba spokesman, Abdullah Ghaznavi, has said the group was not involved.

But several Indian newspapers reported on front pages yesterday that Indian intelligence agencies have told the government that the attacks were planned by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

The respected New Delhi-based Hindustan Times quoted an unidentified intelligence source as saying that the explosions have all the "hallmarks" of an ISI operation.

The government's National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan "pointed a finger at Pakistan" during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, the Indian Express said.

Given that all newspapers carried similar unattributed reports, it appeared the allegation originated from a single source in the government. It is common in India to blame the ISI after any terrorist attack.

Pakistan dismissed the reports. "This is baseless, and we reject it," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told reporters.

Pakistan consistently denies stoking terror in India or fanning militancy in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan. Both nuclear-armed countries claim the entire territory and have fought two wars over it since their independence from Britain in 1947.

On Wednesday, the Indian government had demanded that Pakistan dismantle all terrorist networks on its part of Kashmir.

Roy, the Mumbai police chief, said the two suspects named on Thursday had been on the run since mid-May, when authorities arrested three suspected Muslim insurgents and seized large quantities of arms, ammunition and plastic explosives after a long highway chase in western India's Maharashtra State.

The seizure included 30kg of the military explosive RDX, 10 AK-47 assault rifles and 2,000 rounds of ammunition.

News reports at that time had said the arrested men were Lashkar-e-Tayyaba members.

Lashkar has in the past used near-simultaneous explosions in Indian cities, including an October attack in New Delhi that killed more than 60 people. The group was also named in a 2001 attack on India's parliament.

On Thursday, a man claiming to represent al-Qaeda reportedly claimed the terror network had set up a wing in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where Islamic militants have been fighting for years for independence from predominantly Hindu India or union with mostly Muslim Pakistan.

There was no way to immediately verify the al-Qaeda claim. If true, it would be the first time Osama bin Laden's network has claimed to have spread into Indian territory.

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