Live bombs found in Surat, terror probe makes little headway (Roundup)

July 29th, 2008 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Surat/Ahmedabad/New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) When Gujarat was gradually coming to grips with its loss three days after synchronized bombings shattered the peace in Ahmedabad claiming 50 lives, there was added shock in Surat as 18 live bombs were found at various locations Tuesday taking the number of unexploded ammo to a shocking 21. Most of the bombs found in the south Gujarat city of Surat were in the Varacha area and the bomb disposal squad was literally on the run shuttling from one place to the other to defuse them.

The first was found behind the Labeshwar police post when a provision store owner was opening his shop.

A little while later another bomb was found near the Baroda bridge in Santoshnagar area close to a garment shop with the bomb placed inside an electric meter box.

Later in the afternoon, another bomb was found on the branches of a banyan tree. And just as the cops were heaving a sigh of relief, they had to rush to Varacha’s mini diamond market where four more bombs were found. All four were defused.

The latest discoveries came after those on Sunday. A high alert had been sounded after two cars laden with explosives, powder material, gelatin sticks and shrapnel were found in the Surat.

Strangely, none of the bombs found exploded, leading to various theories on whether the city was being used as a staging post and a cache by terrorists on their way to Ahmedabad.

“It’s been only because of a vigilant public that we managed to reach in the nick of time and defuse them. We have asked people to avoid crowded areas,” said the city’s police commissioner R.M.S. Brar.

In Ahmedabad, investigators were yet to get a fix on the perpetrators behind the torrent of 21 blasts that rocked the city Saturday evening and were still rummaging the blast sites and questioning survivors for vital leads.

Abdul Halim, a Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activist from Uttar Pradesh, was detained by the police for interrogation. Officials also said the arrest of three suspects from Surendranagar could provide some vital clues. The three were picked up soon after the blasts and handed over to the Ahmedabad police crime branch.

In New Delhi, the central government was contemplating to rewrite the Explosives Rules of 1983 so as to regulate the commercial usage, handling and sale of ammonium nitrate that has become the preferred choice of terror outfits for assembling explosives.

The commerce ministry was reportedly considering curbs on the potent and highly inflammable grades of the compound.

“We are trying to study the rules formulated by the US and the UK to regulate the usage and sale of explosives such as ammonium nitrate,” said an intelligence official.

Already under severe pressure for not being able to crack any of the 11 high-profile terror attacks in the country since the pre-Diwali blasts in Delhi in October 2005, home ministry officials were trying to work out an internal security doctrine that would be shared in the proposed conclave of the chief ministers.

There was an uneasy calm in Ahmedabad even as the day began on a bright note after Monday’s heavy rains.

“It seems as if the almighty has washed away our tears with the rain,” said Sattarbhai, owner of a pan shop in the Khanpur area.

Residents flocked newspaper stalls to learn new details of Saturday’s bomb blasts, which killed at least 50 people and injured about 200. Sketches of the bomb blasts suspects were printed in various newspapers.

Elsewhere, a middle-aged man was arrested for his alleged connection with the Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from a southern West Bengal district.

“The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested Mohammad Mustaq Ahmed from Raghunathganj area of Murshidabad district. The sleuths also seized some gelatine sticks and a laptop with some other objectionable documents,” West Bengal Inspector General (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

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