Experts hunt for clues to Agartala serial blasts (Lead)

October 2nd, 2008 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghAgartala, Oct 2 (IANS) Experts from India’s elite National Security Guards (NSG) Thursday began an investigation in Tripura to find out the nature of explosives used in the serial bombings in which about 100 people were injured. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the blasts, for which while six people have been detained.A team of NSG experts, led by Major Karam Bir from New Delhi, and a team of experts from the National Forensic Laboratory in Kolkata have already begun investigations along with Tripura police officials.

The NSG and forensic experts met the injured in hospitals and collected samples from the blast sites.

Security forces stepped up vigil across the state after four blasts rocked Agartala Wednesday night.

“BSF (Border Security Force) has been alerted and asked by the government to keep a close watch on the Tripura’s border with Bangladesh,” Tripura police spokesman Nepal Das said. Tripura shares an 856-km long international border with Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday spoke to Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and condemned the terror strike.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari also condemned the blasts and said “such mindless acts of violence coinciding with the festive season are aimed at disturbing peace and harmony”, a Tripura government official said.

Disclosing that six people have been detained, Director General of Police Pranay Sahay said: “Senior police officials are out on the streets to unearth the design behind the bombings.”

“Contrary to media reports, nobody died in the blasts, although the condition of eight of the injured was critical.”

The police Wednesday said two people were killed in the four explosions in crowded marketplaces and a bus stand in a space of about an hour.

Sahay told reporters that preliminary investigations have revealed that the ingredients of the bombs were ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

He said: “There is some similarity in the nature of the explosion in Agartala and other parts of the country.”

No group has as yet owned up responsibility for the blasts.

Tripura, which has witnessed spells of insurgency and violence, has never in the past been targeted with explosions.

The two banned separatists’ outfits, All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), have been relatively quiet in recent years.

The police said the motive behind the blasts could be to create tension in the mixed population capital city on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr and the approaching Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Dashera.

The main opposition Congress party Thursday demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the serial bombings.

“The Left Front government has ignored the warning of the union home ministry and other central agencies about the bordering state being used as safe corridor,” said Congress leader Ratan Lal Nath.

“Foreign intelligence agencies have set up bases here to create trouble. A CBI probe should be done,” he said.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary in-charge of Tripura Sanjoy Bapna made a day-long visit to Agartala Thursday to assess the situation.

“The AICC leader assessed the situation and later left for New Delhi and would apprise the party high command,” said state Congress president Samir Ranjan Burman.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has asked the Left Front government to book the culprits and uncover the terror plan.

“It looked like a pre-planned act to create panic and strike terror in the otherwise peaceful state,” said Gautam Das, CPI-M spokesman.

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