Hyderabad/ New Delhi, Aug. 26: Last evening’s bombers are suspected to have used an ammonium nitrate-based explosive that has divided suspicion between the Maoists and the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul Jehadi Islami.
Officers said each bomb was packed with 1.25kg to 1.5kg of Neogel-90, made by the Nagpur-based Amin Explosives Pvt Ltd, whose office was raided today by Maharashtra police who made no arrests.
Some of the evidence from the blast sites suggests the hand of the Harkat, which is known to use ammonium nitrate and is a suspect in the Mecca Masjid blast here in May, investigators said.
Chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, too, has blamed “international terrorist organisations” based in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the blasts, which killed 40 adults and three children.
But sources said Neogel-90, used in road construction, suggests a possible role by the Maoists who have been planning retaliation for the state government’s hot-pursuit campaign.
Neogel-90 is not known to have been used in terror attacks in India, but there have been two seizures from suspected Naxalites in Kerala and Nepal. The first came in Palakkad’s Vadakkaenchery on February 2, 2005, and the second — a bigger haul of 475kg — at Kantipur in February 2006.
The police reportedly questioned Amin Explosives’ owner, Sohail Amin, and searched his office at downtown Gandhibagh and his farmhouse at suburban Kamleshwar, Nagpur police chief Satyapal Singh said.
The Neogel-90 was put inside a three-walled wooden box and covered with copper plates on the fourth side. Contact with copper turns ammonium nitrate combustible.
The investigators said RDX — detected in small quantities at one of the blast sites —may have been used to trigger the Neogel-90 blast. The explosions were timed through alarm clocks, made by Prince & Co, which were connected to gelatine sticks.
“Each of the bombs had 600gm of steel pellets, used as bicycle ball bearings,” a forensic expert said. “Most of the deaths were caused by the balls that flew about at the speed of bullets and punctured the skull or vital organs like the heart.”
The police have detained Mohammed Mustafa, the owner of a bicycle shop at Bibinagar, 20km northwest of Hyderabad, on suspicion that the pellets were bought from him. They are also questioning an alleged ISI agent, detained in Nalgonda.
The police have found 19 unexploded bombs in plastic bags around the city. One had been placed near an ice-cream vending machine, another on a bench, a third near a public water tap and a fourth was hanging from a scooter.
Bombs have been recovered in cinemas, bus stops and garbage dumps, at road junctions and under footbridges.
Police commissioner Balwinder Singh said the carry bags provided the bombers with a ready cover. “They were planted on a Saturday evening when the city teems with weekend shoppers carrying plastic bags.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has suggested setting up a permanent fund for relief to victims of terror attacks at a meeting where home minister Shivraj Patil apprised him of the situation in Hyderabad.