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Mumbai blasts: 350 detained amidst suspicion

Those arrested include known thugs, gangsters and trouble makers, who might have a clue about the culprits.

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 13:30 IST

Mumbai police have detained about 350 people for questioning in connection with the Bombay train bombings, officials said on Thursday amid suspicion that Kashmiri militants could be linked to the attacks that killed at least 200 people. Most of the detentions were made overnight in Malwani, a northeastern suburb of Bombay, said police Inspector S. Goshal. He said none of them has been formally arrested or charged, and they were rounded up only for questioning to help with the investigations into Tuesday's serial bombings.

Bombay police Commissioner A.N. Roy confirmed a large number of arrests have been made but refused to give an exact figure. "There have been widespread search operations. A lot of people have been detained for questioning and this is all part of a large scale investigation, the search operation and combing operation," he said.

He also told that those arrested include known thugs, gangsters and trouble makers, who might have information about the culprits. The arrests came a day after the police chief of Maharashtra said investigators were looking into a possible link with Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the several Kashmiri militant groups.

"It is difficult to say definitely at this stage, but Lashkar-e-Taiba can be involved going by the style of attack," said P.S. Pasricha, the director general of police in Maharashtra.

Lashkar has in the past employed near-simultaneous explosions to attack Indian cities. A spokesman for Lashkar, Abdullah Ghaznavi, denied the group was involved, saying in a statement that "Indian security forces blame Lashkar in an attempt to defame Kashmir freedom struggle."

On Thursday, the city was back on track with tens of thousands of people jamming the commuter train service that had been hit by eight bombs, which killed at least 200 people and wounded more than 700. "The city has faced attacks in the past. It is always bounced back quickly... people have to go to work, what else can we do," said Ashwini Lolo, an office worker in his 20s, at the Bandra station waiting to board a train.

His voice was drowned by the loud announcements on the station's public address system as the brown-and-yellow trains whizzed by with people hanging out the doors like every day.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised the wounded city of 16 million for its strength and resilience. "No one can make India kneel. No one can come in the path of our progress," Singh said in a nationally televised speech. Earlier Wednesday, the Indian foreign Ministry demanded that neighbouring rival Pakistan dismantle all terrorist networks on land that it controls but fell short of directly accusing it for the attacks.

"We would urge Pakistan to take urgent steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on the territory under its control and act resolutely against individuals and groups who are responsible for terrorists' violence," Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

Many suspect the attacks were the work of Kashmiri militants who New Delhi charges are trained, armed and funded by Islamabad. Pakistan, which harshly condemned the bombings, insists it only offers the rebels diplomatic and moral support.

In an interview in Washington, Pakistan's foreign minister bristled at suggestions that his country bore responsibility for the attacks.

"You can't really blame everything on Pakistan; it's very unfair," Khurshid Kasuri said. "India is a vast country. There are lots of people who have their own agendas, not just in Kashmir."