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Blasts whiff in arms cache

Mumbai, May 14: Three persons suspected to have a hand in the Mulund train blast have led Mumbai police to a huge cache of arms and ammunition.

In one of the biggest arms hauls in recent times, police recovered 250 hand grenades, four AK-47 assault rifles, three pistols, two revolvers, two guns, 60 live cartridges and 11 empty cartridges from a dried-up well in Padhga village. The cache also included a H-36 explosive, a high-intensity device that breaks into 36 pieces on detonation.

Police commissioner R.S. Sharma said the arms and ammunition may have been hidden for a future attack on the city, along the lines of the Mulund and Ghatkopar blasts.

“We may have averted a massive attack on targets in Mumbai and Kerala,” senior police officials said. They claim to have cracked a conspiracy hatched by the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (Simi) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba to execute a series of explosions in the city and elsewhere.

“This consignment was supposed to be part of the series of blasts we saw in Ghatkopar, Mulund, Mumbai Central and Vile Parle,” Sharma said.

Surprisingly, one of the guns found in the well was part of an arms load that had made its way into India at the time of the 1993 Bombay riots. Sources said one grenade bore the distinct mark of having been manufactured in an ordnance factory.

The police arrested Muzzamal Ansari, Mohammed Nadir Palob and Arif Hussain in the latest crackdown on Simi activists. The three have been charged with conspiracy in the Mulund blast that killed 11 and injured 70 on March 13. “These arrests have only proved our contention that all the blasts in the last five months were inter-linked,” Sharma said. He said Noor Mohammad Ansari, one of the accused, now in custody, was involved in abducting Parthapratim Roy Burman, owner of Khadim’s shoes.

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