R E G I O N: New Delhi steps up ‘biggest ever’ manhunt to trace bombers
* Security beefed up in the city
* Senior Indian Army official says group claiming responsibility not based out of Kashmir
NEW DELHI: Police on Monday stepped up what they called one of the biggest ever manhunts in the Indian capital, which was cloaked in tight security after a weekend attack claimed by Islamic militants.
As another victim succumbed to his injuries from Saturday’s coordinated explosions, bringing the death toll to 62, investigators said they hoped mobile phone records could lead to a breakthrough in the case.
The city overnight brought in 2,600 security personnel to bolster New Delhi’s 71,000-member police force and invited out-of-town forensic experts to help speed up investigations, a senior police official said.
“We are using all our resources, which includes spotters, informers and even known hoodlums, to crack this case as early as possible,” she told AFP. A police commissioner who asked not to be named said “We are going through calls originating from 18 cellular towers at the three blast sites because we believe the attacks were coordinated with the help of mobile phones.”
“It’s hard work but at the end we will get what we want,” he said.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil however said “it won’t be appropriate or scientific to give out details of the investigations at present,” as hundreds of detectives trawled the city for suspects.
Three nearly simultaneous blasts tore through a bus and two crowded markets on Saturday in an attack claimed by the Islamic Revolutionary Group, believed to have ties to a leading militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir. In a statement the spokesman said the attacks would continue as long as Indian troops remained in Kashmir.
The carnage cast a pall on the capital ahead of Tuesday’s holiday of Diwali, the festival of lights. Some markets were emptier than usual as nervous residents stayed away after the blasts, which also injured 210 people.
Police guarded Delhi’s 18 exit points and prowled airports, rail and inter-city bus stations for suspects in what a police spokesman said was one of the biggest ever manhunts in the capital.
City police said they were also in touch with their counterparts in Indian Kashmir for details of the little-known group.
Police were questioning more than two dozen people in connection with the attacks.
Meanwhile, Indian security officials in Kashmir, where around a dozen rebel groups have been waging an insurgency since 1989, said on Monday they were in the dark about the obscure group that claimed the blasts. “We have not heard about this group before,” a senior Indian Army officer said, asking not to be named.
“It is surely not a group based out of Kashmir,” he said, adding that initial intelligence reports indicate it may be based out of Pakistan. Karnail Singh, chief of Delhi’s anti-terrorism police unit, said the group came into existence in 1996 but had remained inactive.
Journalists in Indian Kashmir who have been covering the insurgency said they, too, had never heard of the group and added that rebels in Kashmir tend not to plant bombs aimed randomly at civilians.
Another paramilitary officer said the group could be a front for any of the hardline groups active in Kashmir.
“At times, even if an attack is carried out by a known group, it often uses a fake name to claim responsibility,” he said. afp