Bhopal: Eight terrorists of the banned SIMI group were gunned down early on Monday on the outskirts of Bhopal, hours after they killed a prison guard and escaped a penitentiary here, triggering a massive manhunt across the city.
All eight terrorists were cornered on the outskirts of the city, some 15 km from the prison, after several hours of intense search, the police said.
A police team had to retaliate when the fugitives opened fire at the officers who had waylaid them on the early hours of Monday.
Several policemen were injured in the gunfight.
“Four firearms and three sharp weapons were recovered from the terrorists killed in encounter today,” state IG Yogesh Choudhary told reporters.
“As this was a serious issue, we investigated all possible getaways and after receiving info, we confronted the SIMI terrorists,” he said.
Asked if they received outside help, apparent from the weapons found on them, the officer said, “It is a matter of investigation.”
He added that “these people (SIMI terrorists) have been continuously perpetrating serious offences”.
Meanwhile, the state government has ordered an inquiry by the National Investigation Agency after they seemingly got away without much trouble.
“All factors will be taken into consideration during investigation.
“We have to assess the process as to how they escaped and where did they go after escaping,” the IG said.
After killing the guard by slitting his throat with a steel plate, the terrorists scaled a high wall with help of bed sheets to make their way out around 2 am.
The encounter took place in Malikheda area on the outskirts of Bhopal.
The slain terrorists were identified as Amzad, Zakir Hussain Sadiq, Mohd Salik, Mujeeb Shaikh, Mehbood Guddu, Mohammad Kalid Ahmed, Aqeel and Majid.
The police were on high alert after their escape. The state borders were sealed while a massive search operation was launched to nab the terrorists.
State Home Minister Bhoopendra Singh has admitted to the “security lapses” at the penitentiary.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has promptly suspended five officials in-charge of the Khandwa jail, including the DIG and ADG, for lapses.
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He also announced a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the kin of the dead prison guard.
This was the second major jailbreak by SIMI terrorists from the same prison since the 2013 sensational escape by seven members of the group.
After the initial reports of the police encounter, some opposition members have questioned its veracity, triggering a row.
The initial reports had suggested that the fugitives had no firearms on them. However later in the afternoon, the IG put that story in perspective at a press conference.