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Temple bomb was kept in pressure cooker: Probe

The two devices were timed to go off at an interval of 10 minutes through remote electronic timers, probe reveals.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2006 15:49 IST

Initial investigations have shown that the bomb used in the explosion at the Sankat Mochan temple was kept in a pressure cooker.

The two explosive devices were timed to go off at an interval of 10 minutes through remote electronic timers, investigations reveal.

Intelligence agencies are trying to establish if a suspected Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist gunned down by security forces in Lucknow had any links with the blasts in Varanasi.

At least 28 persons were killed and over 50 were injured in the blasts.

After the terror attack in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex in Ayodhya in July 2005, the government had sanctioned Rs 167 million for beefing up security and installing high-tech surveillance equipment at important shrines and monuments. But the Sankat Mochan temple was not in the protected list, authorities said.

The Home Ministry, however, had drawn up elaborate preventive procedures to ensure security at the temple even though the Sankat Mochan temple did not feature in the scheme for strengthening the security.

"There were some standard operating measures that had to be followed. Clearly, the attackers knew the measures were not in place and took advantage of the situation," sources said.

The slain militant, identified as Salaar alias Salim, was gunned down in a joint operation by police forces of Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh in the Gosaiganj area on the outskirts of Lucknow.

"We know Salaar was an expert in carrying out explosions and was wanted in connection with several bomb blasts in Jammu and Kashmir. But we have not got any clinching evidence to pin him down to Tuesday's blasts," said an intelligence official.

Investigators are trying to find out why the Uttar Pradesh government chose not to act on "alerts" on the security situation against the backdrop of radical Muslim mobilisation over the Danish cartoons and the riots in Lucknow following US president George W Bush's visit last week.

There was all-round alert following the riots that claimed four lives. Dozens of armed Muslims tried to force Hindu shop owners to shut their stores to protest Bush's visit that first led to an exchange of blows and then to police firing.

"Certain pockets of the state were tense after the riots and an advisory had gone out to keep a vigil on religious places. The temple was certainly on the radar," intelligence sources said.

Investigators are also looking closely into the Ahmedabad railway station blast on February 18 and are trying to establish possible linkages with the Varanasi blasts.

First Published: Mar 08, 2006 15:49 IST