Jama Masjid firing: Police rule out terror attack
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Last Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010, 09:38
New Delhi: Apparently intended to cause terror ahead of Commonwealth Games, two unidentified motorcycle-borne attackers today shot and injured two Taiwanese nationals outside the Jama Masjid here which was followed by a crude pressure cooker bomb blast in a car in the same area.

Delhi Police appeared to be ruling out the role of any organised terror group but intelligence experts said it could be a handiwork of outlawed Indian Mujahideen, which was behind a series of blasts in several cities, including Delhi and Ahmedabad.

The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack in an e-mail sent to PTI and some other news organisations and threatened terror strikes during the Games.

A red alert was sounded across the capital after the incident in which the two bikers, wearing raincoats and helmets, fired 7-8 rounds on the stationary vehicle adjacent to Gate No 3 of the mosque and 100 metres away from the house of Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari at 11.10 am. Police have detained one person for questioning in connection with the case.

The two injured -- Cesewein (27) and Cinglo (28) -- were rushed to the nearby government Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital, a senior police official said.

Cesewein (27) had a miraculous escape as the bullet grazed his head while Cinglo (28) was hit in right abdomen.

The injured were part of a five-member group of tourists who work with a television channel in Taiwan and were in the capital since yesterday. They were to leave for Jaipur on Tuesday and then visit Agra and return to the capital on September 27 to take a flight back to Taiwan.

Karnal Singh, Joint Commissioner (Northern Range), told reporters that the four cartridges recovered from the spot showed that the weapon used could be .38 calibre revolver.

But the rounds of fire recovered were also of 9 mm, which can be used in pistol or carbine, he said refusing to hazard a guess on the motive of the attackers.

"We are looking into all angles and we cannot jump to conclusions. It appears to be done to create panic," he said. "A red alert has been sounded and we are conducting checks at various points. We are confident of nabbing the culprits soon," he said.

Nearly two hours after the firing incident, a car went up in flames when a "crudely-circuited" pressure cooker bomb exploded about 50 metres away from the spot where the firing incident took place.

"The car went up in flames due to a crudely-circuited pressure cooker bomb," a senior police official said. Investigators suspect the involvement of a "group of disgruntled youth or local criminals" who wanted to create a scare in the area.

Constable Pramod, who was manning Gate No 3, tried to give a chase to the attackers but they fled on their motorcycle. A rickshaw-puller also tried to give a chase and he even threw a brick at them in a bid to foil their escape. The mini-bus also had one of its windows broken and a bullet pierced into its body.

Asked whether it is a security scare ahead of the October 3-14 Games, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said, "an incident like this is something worrying but nothing to panic about."

Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy said the incident would not have an impact on the Games.

"Lots of security measures have already been taken. But wherever there is an inadequacy about it, that hole has to be plugged," the Chief Minister said.

Hours after the incident, Home Minister P Chidambaram visited the LNJP Hospital, where the two injured Taiwanese are admitted. He enquired about their health conditions and also talked to senior official and medical professionals present there.

The e-mail sent by the Indian Mujahideen said, "in the name of Allah, the attack is a tribute to Atif Amin and Mohammed Sajid". Amin and Sajid were IM operatives killed by the police in the Batla House encounter soon after the Delhi serial blasts of September 2008.

"We are warning you. If you have the guts, then organise the Commonwealth Games...We know that preparations are on full swing. Be prepared...We are also making preparations...The participants in the Games will be responsible for the outcome," the e-mail said.

The modus operandi in the firing carries the signature of Indian Mujaheedin, Home Ministry sources said.

Sources in security agencies said the incident could be an attempt to spread scare ahead of the Games. They said terror angle cannot be ruled out.

The Union Home Ministry is also closely monitoring the investigations into the shooting incident and has sought a report from the Delhi Police.

Asked if the security agencies have been able to find out the motive behind the incident, senior Home Ministry officials said it was too early to make an assessment and that the investigations were underway.

Police said phone calls in the area are being scanned and armed personnel have been deployed in the locality.

However, Delhi Police does not suspect the role of any organised terror group behind the incidents but suspect the involvement of disgruntled youths or a gang of local criminals.

The motive appears to be to scare people ahead of the Commonwealth Games, they say, adding the attacks do not show signs of the involvement of terrorist outfits like Indian Mujahideen.

The city police is also not giving much credence to the email sent to media houses purportedly by outlawed Indian Mujahideen as "its content and timing were not matching" with the incidents.

There were "no specific target or specific reasons" for the attacks and they do not find any reason to believe that an organised terror outfit was behind the incidents which left two Taiwanese nationals injured, Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

"The signatures of the attacks do not show that an organised terror organisation like Indian Mujahideen is involved. If you see pressure cooker which was used to explode the car, it was poorly circuited and crudely assembled," a senior police official said.

He also said there was no reason to target Taiwanese as they were not in news for any wrong reasons.

"If it was done by some terrorists, it would have targeted the police station or the Masjid itself. We feel that it is a handiwork of disgruntled youths of the area or local criminal gang," the official said.

Investigators are also collecting details from Salim, a rickshaw puller, who claimed to have witnessed the firing and gave a chase to the attackers along with Constable Pramod who is posted at Jama Masjid.

Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari called it a "terrorist" incident aimed at creating panic, preventing foreign visitors from coming to the city and making the Games a "failure".

"This has been done to spread panic in India so that people from outside do not come to Delhi...a conspiracy to make the Commonwealth Games a failure," he told reporters.

Asked if he feels terrorists were behind this, he said, "killing innocent people, firing several rounds...doing all these things...this is terrorism and the authorities will have to find out who is responsible."

Taiwan representative to India Philip Wen-Chyi Ong and Minister of Health and Family Welfare Kiran Walia also visited the LNJP hospital where the injured were admitted.

Walia said the condition of one of the two Taiwanese nationals was serious as the bullet hit his stomach.

According to her, the doctors were of the opinion that both the patients were not in a position to speak to media or others.

"The hospital is doing its best to take care of the patients. It is matter of concern as it (incident) involved foreigners," she said.


First Published: Monday, September 20, 2010, 09:38

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