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Malegaon probe progress slow

NASHIK POLICE have prepared the sketches of two terror suspects who were either part of the conspiracy behind Friday's bomb blasts in Malegaon or the actual bombers.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2006 15:59 IST

NASHIK POLICE have prepared the sketches of two terror suspects who were either part of the conspiracy behind Friday's bomb blasts in Malegaon or the actual bombers.

Inspector General of Police P.K. Jain said the sketches were made on Sunday on the basis of the accounts of two local cycle shopowners who were questioned by the special team probing the blasts. "The two suspects went to two separate cycle shops and bought one cycle each from them," said Jain. "We cannot say at this juncture if their work was limited to buying the cycles or if they also packed them with explosives and placed them at the Mushawarat chowk and Bada Kabragah to trigger the three blasts."

Police have questioned four persons, including Piyush Agarwal, owner of the Santosh cycle shop, and Mobin, a salesman at the shop. One of the suspects had bought a cycle from the shop.

Jain said it was difficult to say if the blasts were the handiwork of the outfit which had set off a bomb outside a mosque in Nanded in April. "In both cases, crude bombs were planted outside mosques," he said. "But while in the Nanded incident there was a single blast and the bomber had fled on a motorbike, in this case there were multiple blasts."

Top police officials said the Malegaon blasts were quite similar to the blast that occurred outside Mumbai's Vile Parle station in January 2003 in which a bicycle and a crude device were used.

A Mumbai Crime Branch officer said: "The Students' Islamic Movement of India and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba targeted the RSS headquarters in June and then executed blasts in Mumbai in July. The blasts in Malegaon could be their one last desperate attempt to create communal tension."

Jain refused to name the suspect outfits. “We are looking at groups that are local, who could be behind the Mumbai blasts in July, and even at those who have a role at the international level," he said.

Jain said 99.9 per cent of the blast victims had suffered wounds caused by splinters and shrapnels, indicating the use of low-intensity devices which were fitted with timers.

“I am neither denying nor confirming the use of a high-intensity device,” he said. Officials said samples from the blast sites and the debris had been sent to the National Explosives Data Centre, Delhi, which was expected to identify the type of explosives used in a couple of days.

Nashik police are also looking for a couple of civic workers from Malegaon who claim to have seen one of the bombers in the town on Friday afternoon.

Two residents told HT that the civic workers — who were at work near the Mushawarat chowk — had seen a man park his brand-new bicycle outside the entrance gate to the Tipu Sultan watch-tower compound. The man approached the municipality workers, and said, “Just run away fast. Do not stay here since there will be a blast here.” Then, he fled the scene.