Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 4 News List

India issues fresh terrorism warning

DANGER A newspaper said officials in the Indian state of Maharashtra were warned that places of worship and strategic installations as well as trains were potential targets


India's government has warned Maharashtra state, whose capital is Mumbai, of more terror plots, a news report said yesterday as investigators hunted for those behind bombings that ripped through the city's commuter trains.

The federal government warned Maharashtra officials that places of worship, strategic installations and trains could be targeted in Mumbai, a city already on edge following the July 11 bombings that killed 207 people and wounded more than 800, the Times of India reported.

The Times, citing unidentified officials, also said that there were concerns about possible attacks in New Delhi, and that a manhunt was under way for militants suspected of plotting such attacks.

Police in Mumbai would not confirm or deny the report.

Meanwhile, it remained difficult yesterday to access Internet Web logs or blogs blocked by Indian authorities two days after the bombings.

The Web sites -- at least some written by Hindu nationalists -- were blocked two days after the bombings in an effort to stop extremists from stirring up religious violence that has sporadically plagued Hindu-Muslim relations in India.

Angry Internet users and software executives have since pressured the government to reopen access to the sites.

Investigators say they are following leads throughout India, including in the northeastern state of Tripura, where they questioned 11 Muslim preachers who have spent the past three weeks delivering sermons in remote villages along the Bangladesh border.

Authorities fear that Muslim militants might be smuggling weapons and munitions across the frontier.

"Nothing has come out of that [investigation] yet. Some more questioning will be done," police investigator K.P. Raghuvanshi told reporters on Wednesday in Mumbai.

Police also said they were questioning five men detained elsewhere in the northeast to see if they were connected to the blasts.

"We have made some definite progress" in the investigation, Raghuvanshi said, refusing to elaborate.

Police were also using DNA tests to identify a badly mutilated body -- the last one unclaimed from the blasts -- to see if it could be one of the bombers, Raghuvanshi said.

Police and officials have repeatedly suggested Islamic militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir -- namely the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba -- are behind the blasts.

Kashmir is a predominantly Muslim Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan, and is claimed in entirety by both nuclear-armed countries.

India's suspicions of a Pakistan link to the Mumbai bombings have prompted New Delhi to slow a two-year peace process with its archrival.

Police also said on Wednesday that e-mails purportedly from Islamic militants claiming responsibility for the bombings were a hoax.

A teenage boy sent the e-mails on Saturday and Tuesday to Aaj Tak television, posing as the spokesman for a group called Lashkar-e-Qahhar, or the Army of Terror, Raghuvanshi said.

The e-mails claimed responsibility for the bombings and warned of more to come.

Raghuvanshi said the boy was from the central city of Bhopal, but gave no other details about him or how police determined the e-mails were fraudulent.

Lashkar-e-Qahar was unknown before it claimed responsibility for twin bombings in March that killed 20 people in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi.

It remains unclear whether that claim was legitimate.

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