As the toll in Saturday’s Pune blast rose to 10 on Tuesday and the police detained four persons for questioning, the office of a leading Indian daily in Islamabad got a call from a little-known terror outfit claiming it had carried out the attack.
A person identifying himself as Abu Jindal called The Hindu’s office, saying he was the spokesman of a terror outfit, Laskhar-e-Tayyeba Al Alami, and claimed the group had carried out the strike because of India’s “refusal” to discuss Kashmir in upcoming talks with Pakistan and because India was a US ally.
“These are the only two reasons. Joh bhi America ka ittehad hoga, hum uskey khilaf jang ladengey, chahey woh India ho ya Pakistan (we will wage war against any ally of America, whether it is India or Pakistan),” Jindal said.
Responding to the phone call, a government official said: “Any knee-jerk reaction now means falling into the trap of terrorists who want India-Pakistan talks to be derailed.”
The Hindu’s report said the number from which the call was made had the area code of Waziristan tribal area and Bannu, the adjoining district in North-West Frontier Province.
The caller said the group split from the Laskhar-e-Tayyeba as it took orders from Pakistan’s ISI. Security officials said there wasn’t much information on the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba Al Alami. “To be honest, it is not very clear. It could be a splinter group or an attempt to divert attention from the Lashkar,” an intelligence officer said.
Home Secretary G.K. Pillai refused to answer questions on investigations but emphasised the government was hopeful of a breakthrough in 2-3 days.
While a preliminary forensic report on Tuesday established the use of a mixture of ammonium nitrate, fuel oil and RDX, strengthening suspicion that the Indian Mujahideen is behind the blast, intelligence agencies are speculating that the Lashkar leadership in Pakistan may have more than directed the attack.
“We are increasingly convinced the operation was a Lashkar job, executed under its directions by its sleeper cell in Pune,” an officer said.
In Pune, Abhishek Saxena (23), a final-year engineering student, died at a private hospital, taking the toll to 10.
“This combination (of explosives) has been used before. I’d like to get those behind the blast and then comment,” said Pune police commissioner Satyapal Singh.