Indian investigators continue hunt for Mumbai bombers

-File photo

Indian police detained 250 people on Saturday for questioning as part of a huge intelligence trawl to find the culprits behind the Mumbai train blasts that killed at least 181 people, police said.
Senior officers said “many hundreds” had been picked up since Tuesday’s rush-hour blasts with most released after questioning and police yet to arrest anyone.
The latest roundup was centred on an area populated by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, police said.
“The operation is going on,” said a Mumbai police spokesman.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday accused “foreign elements” of supporting militants behind the attacks in a reference to Pakistan which immediately rejected his comments.
Senior investigators have said the identity of the group behind the attacks remained “hazy” although the method bore the hallmarks of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an outfit banned in Pakistan.
Media reports say that Mumbai-based activists from the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) are also suspected of having a role in the attacks. Both groups denied any part in the blasts.
Three men have been the focus of media speculation including one accused of involvement in bombings in the capital Delhi last year that left more than 60 dead and two others who fled the country after an explosives seizure near Mumbai in May.
But Mumbai police commissioner A.N. Roy said the inquiry team were still sifting through large numbers of potential suspects for the attacks which left 890 injured.
“They are under the scanner. We’re looking at many, many people; many identified and many unidentified ones,” he told AFP.
He said “many hundreds” had been brought in for questioning since Tuesday’s blast with most of them released. He was unable to give exact numbers.
A dozen police teams were trawling through the information gathered over the past four days, according to the Press Trust of India.
Indian security forces have traced up to 70 calls made from Mumbai to Bangladesh, the Gulf and to other countries immediately before and after the attacks, according to Daily News and Analysis (DNA) newspaper.
Seven blasts went off in the space of 15 minutes along Mumbai’s western railway line, tearing open first-class train carriages packed with people travelling home from work.
Analysts believe the bombers hoped to fuel Hindu-Muslim tensions and may have targeted first-class carriages to maximise casualties among wealthy Hindus in India’s financial capital and spare poorer Muslims.
Two-minute silences and religious ceremonies will be held next Tuesday at the blast sites at the exact moment when each bomb went off, a state official said. The explosions occurred within 15 minutes of each other during rush-rush.
“We have decided to organise a 711 ceremony at each of the blast sites where we want the entire city to come together and observe a two-minute silence for the victims,” said chief secretary D.K. Sankaran.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2006