Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Investigating the Bombay blast

The latest from CNN:
MUMBAI, India (CNN) -- Timers hidden in pencils have been discovered in at least three of the seven sites where bombs exploded on commuter trains in India's financial capital, killed 185 people, according to CNN's sister station, CNN-IBN.

The timers are believed to have detonated bombs made of RDX, one of the most powerful kinds of military explosives, the network quoted police as saying Wednesday.
The New York Times:
Police spent the day combing through the wreckage of the seven passenger cars that were bombed, looking for forensic evidence that might help them identify the culprits. Experts were examining a timer found near the site of one of the blasts. Initial tests suggested that RDX, a powerful plastic explosive, had been used, the home ministry said.

The director general of police in Maharashtra, the Indian state that includes Mumbai, said that officers had “no concrete evidence” to implicate Lashkar-e-Toiba, an Islamic militant organization that is fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, a mostly Muslim state that is also claimed, and is partly occupied, by Pakistan.

But the director general, P. S. Pasricha, said “the modus operandi does suggest their involvement.” The organization and scale of the attacks, the type of explosive involved and the use of remote control devices all suggested that Lashkar-e-Toiba may have been involved, perhaps in conjunction with local groups, he said.
The Christian Science Monitor:
Bombay police are calling the explosions "a well-coordinated attack," and the quick succession of bombs in crowded rush hour trains echoes the strike on Madrid's train system in 2004 that killed 191 people. And the timing of the Mumbai attack, just days before the G-8 summit of leading economic powers, parallels the London subway bombings which occurred on the day of last year's G-8 meeting.

Analysts say that these similarities, as well as the sophistication of the Mumbai attack, suggests ties to international Islamic terror groups, perhaps working through a local militant outfit.

"[The attack was] well planned, orchestrated, simultaneous [and was] designed to inflict maximum loss of life. It's probably the handiwork of a well-equipped, well-funded, terrorist group that hews to the Al Qaeda school of thought," says Sajjan Gohel. "In the region, only Lashkar-e-Tayyaba has such capabilities."

Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), one of more than a dozen Islamic rebel groups fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir since 1989, has been blamed by police for a number of past attacks on Indian soil, including a set of bombings in Bombay in 2003 that left 44 dead. In past years, police have uncovered a cell tied to LeT in the Bombay suburb of Thane. The group is the most sophisticated of the militant outfits fighting to wrest Kashmir from India, and it is accused of having ties to Pakistan as well as funding from outside.
The Guardian:
The apparent denial from Lashkar-e-Taiba came from a man calling himself "Doctor Ghaznavi" who made telephone calls to newspaper offices in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir.

The caller condemned the attacks, describing them as "inhuman and barbaric acts". He went on: "Islam does not permit the killing of innocent people. Blaming LeT for such inhuman acts is an attempt by the Indian security agencies to defame Kashmiri mujahideens."

Another leading Kashmiri group, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, denounced the bomb attacks as "outrageous", saying it abhorred the killing of civilians. Reuters reported the group's spokesman, Ehsan Elahi, saying from Islamabad: "Attacks on civilians are not part of our manifesto. We never carried out such attacks nor will allow anyone to do so."

Lashkar-e-Taiba has been blamed for several major attacks in India in recent years, including bomb blasts in New Delhi in October last year which killed more than 60 people. The blasts in Mumbai came hours after suspected Islamist militants killed eight people, seven of them tourists, in five grenade attacks in Srinagar.


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