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Doctor in net, Kenya damper

Mumbai, July 22: Maharashtra police today claimed four more arrests over the July 11 blasts, saying the “well-qualified” suspects included a doctor and a Bangalore-based software engineer.

Bangalore police sources, however, denied any arrest from their city, and late at night, even yesterday’s supposed prized catch in Kenya proved a dud.

Kenyan police said the man held in Mombasa was a west African national and not Abdul Karim alias Tunda, the Lashkar-e-Toiba master bomber wanted for blasts in Mumbai, Delhi and other places in the 1990s.

Agency reports quoted Kenyan police spokesman M. Kibunja as saying the arrested man “has nothing to do with the Mumbai blasts”. Other reports said he had been handed over to the American FBI.

As they announced their fresh catch today, Maharashtra police’s anti-terrorist squad (ATS) refused to provide details of the “highly confidential” circumstances of the arrests.

“Only four officers know about the (details of the) arrests,” an officer said. But an ATS source revealed that two of the four had been picked up from central Mumbai’s Parel, a Muslim-dominated locality that is home to thousands of jobless mill workers and is the hub of underworld dons.

ATS chief K.P. Raghuvanshi said the four arrested today had been detained for questioning soon after the blasts. “All four have been to Pakistan to receive training in handling explosives and other terrorist activities. They are well qualified. One is a doctor and another a software engineer based in Bangalore. They will be produced in court on Monday.”

The blow from Kenya whittled the number of arrests in the case down from eight to seven, with yesterday’s tally now standing at three.

The police are waiting for the forensic report on the black powder found at the home of one of them, Kamal Ansari.

Sleuths are also checking up on the cellphone records of Ansari, his associate Khalid Sheikh (both arrested in Bihar’s Madhubani), and brother-in-law Mumtaz Choudhary, picked up from Navi Mumbai’s Turbhe area. The trio, suspected to have provided logistical support to the July 11 bombers, are in police custody.

A source said Choudhary had begun to talk and “is giving us details of people whom he put up in Navi Mumbai before the blasts”. The police expect him to identify the sketches of suspects.

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