Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Group claiming responsibility for blasts in Mumbai says one member was killed

MYSTERY Police are still following up on an e-mail they received from a person calling himself John Smith who claimed to be involved in the attacks

AFP , MUMBAI

Indian police yesterday were investigating if the sole unclaimed body from the Mumbai train attacks was a bomber after a little-known group said a member of a 16-strong terror team was killed in the operation.

Police have cast doubt on a claim of responsibility by Lashkar-e-Qahhar for the well-planned attacks on July 11 that killed 182 and wounded more than 800. The group said it would provide video evidence to back up its claims.

"One body is unidentified lying in the morgue. We don't know if he is one of the terrorists, so we're investigating," additional commissioner of police Jayjit Singh said.

The group warned of further attacks on historic and government sites in India in an e-mail sent to the private Aaj Tak television network late on Monday.

"We are Muslims, we never tell lie," said the e-mail in badly written English and signed by Abu Mahaz who claimed to be a spokesman for the group.

It said a member of the team had died but "all the remaining 15 mujahideens are totally safe, and celebrating the success of this mission and also preparing for the next mission."

It accused the government of "exploiting" Muslims but did not go into detail. Experts have cast doubt on the e-mail because it was sent under the name of "John Smith" -- a name unlikely to be used by Islamic militants.

Police have traced the e-mail to the city of Indore in central Madhya Pradesh Province, according to the Press Trust of India, quoting an unnamed senior police official.

"It is most likely to be an Internet cafe and we will have to find out if the sender could be identified," the official said, but did not rule out that it was a hoax.

Singh blamed "hooligans" for the e-mail, the second from the group after a claim of responsibility on Saturday, and said officers were treating its claims with caution.

The group, whose name roughly translates as "Army of the Imperious," first came to public prominence when it claimed responsibility for a triple bombing on India's holiest city of Varanasi that killed more than 20 people.

But police at the time dismissed the claim of responsibility as a smokescreen and pinned blame on one or other of the two main pro-Pakistan militant groups Jaish-e-Mohammed or Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Police said the Mumbai blasts bore all the hallmarks of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, with help from local Islamist militants. But they were still investigating who was behind the attacks.

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