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Footage focus on Room 303

Hyderabad, Feb. 25: A group who checked separately into a lodge near one of the Hyderabad blast sites has not been accounted for, prompting investigators scanning CCTV footage to intensify efforts to track them down.

Based on the footage that showed the movement of people from the lodge behind a bus shelter, the sleuths tried to verify the antecedents of occupants who had stayed there in the run-up to the blasts on February 21.

But the investigators could not trace those who occupied Room 303 of the lodge from February 15 onwards on the basis of the address provided at the reception.

On February 16, the same room was occupied by one Raju Bhaiya, apparently a fictitious identity. While four persons who could not be accounted for now were seen entering and leaving the hotel between February 16 and 21 when the blasts took place, the man who introduced himself as Raju was a guest till 4pm on the day of the explosions, sources said.

The bombs had gone off around 7pm on Thursday, killing 16 people and injuring many.

The police said the three cycles on which the bombs were planted were hired locally. Footage near a movie hall, the site of the first blast, apparently shows two riders, one wearing a T-shirt. One rider keeps the cycle near the theatre and both vanish into the crowd.

But the vague images have forced officers to send the footage to Mumbai for advanced forensic lab analysis.

A PTI report said the footage was not clear and the investigators are thinking of seeking the help of the FBI “to analyse and harvest” the images.

The footage obtained from the camera near the twin bomb blast sites has not yielded any credible clues so far, as images of three persons lurking near a bicycle, believed to be strapped with explosives, is not clear enough, sources said.

“The footage was sent to a film laboratory in the city. However, there has been no headway. The quality of the picture could not be improved. So, the footage may be sent to the FBI which has advanced technology,” an official said.

Investigators are also of the view that the twin blasts were not triggered by a remote control but by a timer device, sources said.

“It is difficult to use remote control for triggering the second blast as the first explosion would disturb waves and frequency. It would have made the second explosion difficult. So, the bombs might have been triggered by a timer,” PTI quoted a source as saying.

The sleuths are now analysing data of calls received and made from cellphones in Hyderabad. As many as 40 teams have been formed by the city police.

No arrests have been made but several people are being questioned. Those questioned include a Hyderabad-based teacher’s son picked up in Bihar.

Two persons, one a Somalian and the other a Hyderabadi, were picked up for questioning from near the Nepal border. But a senior officer in Bihar said an initial round of interrogation did not establish any link with the bombings.