The Bihar police are hunting for at least 29 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that went missing from a flat where an
occurred on Monday night, sources in counter terror agencies told HT.
“It is suspected that a gang brought (to Patna) at least 32 highly-powerful and sophisticated IEDs, fabricated with ammonium nitrate, fuel oil, detonator, and Lotus brand watches as timer. One went off accidentally in the Patna flat and two live ones were recovered. The rest of the 29 IEDs are still unaccounted for. The state police teams are looking for them,” said a counter-terror official, requesting anonymity.
Patna’s senior superintendent of police Jitender Rana told HT that the exact number of missing IEDs cannot be ascertained till the main accused, Sonu, is arrested.
“Our teams have been trying to trace all the IEDs brought to Patna by the gang involved in the case,” said Rana.
Five accused who have been nabbed in the case so far are Hindus with no apparent links to Islamist jihadis. Among them, Kundan Kumar, who has a criminal history, seems to know more about the conspiracy than the others.
“Kumar told interrogators that the plan was to make money in Patna through extortions. They wanted to carry out blasts in the city to scare industrialists and force them to cough up money later. But the whole thing doesn’t add up as the IEDs were very lethal with shrapnel filled in them. They were meant to kill dozens not just scare,” said the counter terror official.
But that’s not the only bizarre angle of the probe.
A day after Monday’s blast, the self-styled spokesperson of Maoist group People’s Liberation Front of India claimed responsibility for it. “How can someone claim responsibility for an accidental blast? It might be an exercise to throw the probe off track,” the counter-terror official said.
“The police are probing whether someone with terror links outsourced the operation to the criminal gang,” the official added.
The IEDs were reportedly brought to Patna from Ranchi.
(With inputs from Avinash Kumar in Patna)