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Witnesses nail Mumbai train bombers

Witnesses identify 7 of the 13 bombing suspects, reports Abhishek Sharan.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2006 04:08 IST

Witnesses to the July 11 train bombings have identified seven of the 13 suspects arrested for the attack, Mumbai Police have confirmed to Hindustan Times. Faisal Sheikh, alleged commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s western Indian operations, and the man investigators say masterminded the terrorist operation, is among those identified.

The bombings of first class local coaches of Western Railway trains during the evening rush hour left 192 people dead and over 700 injured.

The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) carried out the identification parade over two consecutive days at Thane central jail earlier this week. The suspects, all of whom are now in judicial custody at Arthur Road prison, and the witnesses were bussed to Thane for the exercise.

Among the suspects identified were: Faisal Sheikh (who is alleged to have personally planted the Jogeshwari bomb), Kamal Ahmed Ansari (who allegedly planted the Matunga bomb), Ehtesham Siddiqui (alleged planter of the Mira Road bomb) and Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid (former state president of the banned SIMI and alleged “key conspirator”).

“Our case witnesses have identified seven of the 13 accused including Faisal, Ehtesham, Kamal, and Junaid,” Police Commissioner AN Roy said. “An executive magistrate carried out the exercise. The identification parade took place inside Thane jail a few days ago. We are trying to gather the requisite evidence, whether material or corroborative, to make a watertight case,” he added.

The other three suspects identified were bomb-maker Sajid Ansari, Unani doctor Tanvir Ansari and Govandi resident Mohammed Ali, at whose home the seven bombs were assembled, Roy said.

“The witnesses are people who had seen the suspects boarding the trains just before the bombs began to go off in a synchronised manner in seven trains between 6.13 pm and 6.28 pm on July 11,” said a top officer who declined to be named. “Some of the witnesses were commuters who were in the bombed compartments, and escaped with injuries.”

ATS sources said they have gathered a lot of circumstantial and corroborative evidence against the accused, including electronic bomb circuit components and Faisal’s Maruti car, which was used by the bombers on July 11.

Cotton swabs from the car have been sent for forensic tests. Some mobile phone handsets, and hard discs of computers used by the accused, have been sent to Hyderabad’s Forensic Science Laboratory.

Email Abhishek Saran: abhishek.sharan@hindustantimes.com