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DELHI BLASTS REDUX

HOURS AFTER terror struck Varanasi, the UP government got a few steps closer to identifying the Sankat Mochan bomber. The state government, in a report, told the home ministry on Wednesday that it had some leads on the suspect, including a rough description. The STF is trying to flesh out more details on the sketch. The ministry, on its part, asked the state not let its guard down as the possibility of more strikes couldn?t be ruled out.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 01:13 IST

HOURS AFTER terror struck Varanasi, the UP government got a few steps closer to identifying the Sankat Mochan bomber. The state government, in a report, told the home ministry on Wednesday that it had some leads on the suspect, including a rough description. The STF is trying to flesh out more details on the sketch. The ministry, on its part, asked the state not let its guard down as the possibility of more strikes couldn’t be ruled out.

As authorities scrambled to contain the damage, there was considerable alarm in government circles. UP, ministry officials admitted, has become a “soft target” with the ISI establishing a formidable network of “sleeper cells”. What also makes it a favourite hunting ground for terrorists is its volatile communal history.

The terror network gets support from the now banned SIMI.

As there have been marked parallels between the October blasts in Delhi and the Varanasi attacks — not just modus operandi but also the use of ammonium nitrate with traces of RDX — the UP STF will approach the Delhi police, ministry sources said. Given that Delhi serial blasts mastermind Abu Alkama is still at large, there is a “strong possibility” that he could be behind the Varanasi explosions too. What the two serial blasts also indicate is a strategic shift in militant operations.

First Published: Mar 09, 2006 01:13 IST