Gunmen kill cop in Andhra, SIMI hand suspected

Two motorcycle-borne men opened fire at a police picket in Hyderabad.

Updated: May 15, 2010, 16:26 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Hyderabad: In a shocking incident that reminds one of the ghastly Mumbai attacks in November 2008 when unknown gunmen attacked the city, a group of two motorcycle-borne men opened indiscriminate fire at a police picket in the old city of Hyderabad on Friday.

“At around 4 pm, two men attacked a group of constables in the Shah Ali Banda area of Hyderabad. One Andhra Special Police personnel named Ramesh sustained several injuries and died on the spot,” Hyderabad Police Commissioner AK Khan told a TV channel.

They were on picket duty at Khilwat in Hussaini Alam police station limits as part of the security arrangements ahead of the third anniversary of the blast at the Mecca Masjid (May 18).

Khan who was also there in the area said he could not have been the target as he was quite some distance away from the spot.

Shah Ali Banda is a congested area which is just a kilometre away from the famed Charminar monument.

Three constables came under direct fire of the men who were wearing helmets and fled the scene after firing many rounds at them. They reportedly used short-fire arms. The injured were taken to the Osmania General Hospital.

“The area is very congested with thousands of people there on the roads. It was very difficult to stop them,” Khan said when asked how the attackers escaped.

The attack comes a few days before the Mecca Masjid blasts anniversary. The police, Commissioner said, were on an alert for the past few days.

Though Khan refused to confirm or deny its involvement, sources said an activist of the outlawed SIMI group. Vikar Ahmed alias Syed Viquaruddin, could be involved in the planning of the attack. Viquaruddin was reportedly trained by the ISI and was underground for the past one year. A resident of Old Malakpet area in the city, he was also associated with a city-based rightwing group Darsgah Jihad-O-Sahadath (DJS)

“It is not a random incident for sure,” the top cop said, adding that the police were following many leads and would soon nab the culprits.

Police have put up barricades at several points in the city and started checking vehicles and frisking people.

The incident sent shock waves as it came despite the continuing search operations by police for over a fortnight amid intelligence warnings of possible terror attacks and close on the heels of the arrest of a terror suspect.

On May 3, an alleged terror suspect of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, 34, was held for planning to cause explosions in the city.

Last year, on the second anniversary of the blast, a policeman was killed and another injured in a similar attack when assailants opened fire on police at Falaknuma area of the old city.

Police have put up barricades at several points in the city and started checking vehicles and frisking people.

The incident sent shock waves as it came despite the continuing search operations by police for over a fortnight amid intelligence warnings of possible terror attacks and close on the heels of the arrest of a terror suspect.

On May 3, an alleged terror suspect of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, 34, was held for planning to cause explosions in the city.

Last year, on the second anniversary of the blast, a policeman was killed and another injured in a similar attack when assailants opened fire on police at Falaknuma area of the old city.

Ahmed was also blamed for attack on policemen in Santoshnagar area in 2008. Two policemen were injured when Ahmed and two others accompanying him opened fire as police were trying to arrest them.

"We can`t say for sure that he is behind today`s incident, but we suspect his involvement and also of other suspects who are at large," Khan said.

Police suspect that Vikar, who had gone to Gulf a few years ago for job, got training in the terror camps abroad. He reportedly visited Oman, Qatar and Bangladesh and developed links with some terror groups.

On May, 18, 2007, a bomb blast during Friday prayers in the 17th century mosque killed nine people. Five people died in the subsequent police firing on protestors outside the mosque.

-IANS inputs