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Bikes lead police to suspects’ sketches

Malegaon, Sept. 10: Police today released sketches of two persons based on the description given by witnesses in the first movement in investigations into the Friday blasts here in which 31 people were killed.

The investigators, however, were clueless about the identity of the attackers.

P.K. Jain, the inspector-general of police (Nashik range), said: “The two cycles found at the spot (of the blasts) were bought from two different shops. We don’t know yet what part these two suspects played in the entire operation. With the help of the two shop owners we have been able to make these sketches.”

An officer said one of the bikes was found at Bada Kabrastan. “The cycle was bought on Friday by one of the suspects around 10.30 am, and it cost him Rs 2,010.”

The police questioned Ramesh Agarwal, the owner of one of the shops, his son, Piyush, who was at the counter when the bicycle was bought, salesman Sohail and Mobin, the fitter. One sketch was made based on the information given by the four.

The police were silent on the identity of the second shop owner. A PTI report said one of the two shop owners was detained for more questioning.

Jain refused to comment on the nature of the bombs. “We are keeping all options open. Since the forensic laboratory results haven’t come in as yet, I cannot comment. Moreover, it’s premature to say anything. We are getting certain leads in the case which are looking encouraging.”

After saying initially that low-intensity explosives were used, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) today appeared to have established a link between the Malegaon explosion and the July 11 blasts in Mumbai.

Police sources in Mumbai said forensic analysis of materials collected from the blast sites indicated that the same explosive cocktail was used in both the attacks.

The Malegaon materials had revealed that quantities of RDX, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil were used in the blasts. The sources said this powerful explosive cocktail was used in smaller quantities at Malegaon than the material in the Mumbai bombs.

Rukmini Krishnamoorthy, director of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Mumbai who led a team to Malegaon on Friday to collect samples, declined comment. The analysis has been completed, but Krishnamoorthy only said: “The report would be submitted to the police tomorrow.”

Jain was not prepared to acknowledge a link between the Malegaon and Mumbai blasts yet. “We are looking at every possible angle. Even a small clue now can take on huge proportions,” he said.

If the similarity between the explosives is proved, the investigation could get a definite direction. The police had not ruled out the possibility of Hindu fundamentalist outfits having masterminded the Malegaon explosions. But the use of the same explosive mix could be taken as an indication that the Malegaon blasts too were the handiwork of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, blamed for the Mumbai carnage.

The ATS suspects that the RDX used in the Mumbai blasts could have been part of the large cache of arms and explosives seized from Aurangabad and Malegaon in May. Over 43 kg of RDX was recovered along with 16 AK-47 rifles and 2,000 rounds of ammunition.

Police sources said the RDX used in Malegaon could also be part of the same consignment. Lashkar operatives Zahibuddin Ansari, Raheel Sheikh and Fayaz Kagzi, who have since fled the country, had allegedly smuggled in the material.

The superintendent of police, Rajvardhan, was mobbed today by a crowd which demanded information on the progress of the probe. Rumour spread like wild fire that a skirmish had broken out in the Bada Kabrastan area and in minutes, hundreds gathered around the graveyard before being dispersed by the police.

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