Two little-known groups, SIMI International and Mujahideen Islami Muslim Front, have claimed responsibility for the blasts that ripped through a well-known Pune bakery two weeks ago, following claims by two other groups.
The day after the blast, two unknown terror groups, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba al-Almi and the Indian Mujahideen Kashmir, had claimed responsibility.
In a handwritten letter that the Pune police received on Tuesday, these two new groups dared the authorities to track down their members, claiming there were now in Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Delhi, Ghaziabad and Nizampur, police sources said.
“We cannot rule out the possibility of the existence of such organisations,” said a senior police officer, who did not wish to be named.
A bomb exploded outside Germany Bakery in Pune’s Koregaon Park locality on February 13, claiming 17 lives so far.
Both letters were written using a mix of Devnagari and Urdu scripts and posted on February 20, sources said.
SIMI International’s letter was posted in Pune but police officials are yet to determine the origin of the letter from the Mujahideen Islami Muslim Front.
Satyapal Singh, Pune’s police commissioner, confirmed his office had received the two letters last week, but that they may be a ploy to throw investigators off track.
But other investigators said they could not take the letters lightly, given recent experience.
For instance, following serial blasts in Jaipur, Delhi and Ahmedabad in 2008, the Indian Mujahideen had claimed responsibility. At that time, the group was unheard of, but investigations revealed it was yet another homegrown terror outfit, such as the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India or SIMI. The latest letter did not say if SIMI International was merely a new name for the banned students’ outfit or a splinter group.
In contrast, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba al-Almi had said it was a breakaway faction of the Pakistan-based terror group charged with carrying out the 26/11 attacks. A police source said many terror groups across the globe periodically rename themselves to confuse investigators. One example is the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, LeT’s parent body, which was first called Markaz-ud-Dawa-Wal-Irshad .