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Murder stink in ATM attack trail

- Man in ‘same shirt’ seen in Andhra
Jyoti Uday, who was attacked at the Bangalore ATM

Hyderabad, Nov. 24: The man behind this week’s machete attack at a Bangalore ATM might have murdered an elderly woman in Andhra Pradesh just days earlier and used debit cards stolen from her to withdraw money, police said today.

An Andhra police officer said investigators had zeroed in on the unidentified assailant, saying closed-circuit cameras in an Andhra ATM may have caught the same man withdrawing cash with stolen debit cards about a week earlier.

Sources said CCTV footage from an ATM in Kadiri, in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district, showed a person resembling the Bangalore ATM assailant and wearing what appeared to be the same blue striped shirt he wore when he attacked bank official Jyoti Uday on November 19.

Kadiri is 170km from Bangalore.

The police suspect that the man withdrew the cash with the help of debit cards he stole from the old lady, Prameelamma, who was found murdered in Dharmavaram town in Anantapur on November 10. Prameelamma was found dead in her house with machete wounds, the sources said.

Dharmavaram police today released CCTV footage from the State Bank of India ATM at Kadiri, which falls under Dharmavaram police station. “The latest footage has strengthened our suspicion that he is a local crook because, after the attack in Bangalore, he returned to Hindupur to sell the mobile phone he snatched from Jyoti,” Dharmavaram DSP Shaik Nawab Jan said.

On Thursday, investigators had picked up a phone dealer to whom the assailant had sold the basic Nokia phone for Rs 500. The dealer, Abuzar, was picked up from Hindupur, an Andhra town around 100km from Bangalore.

Abuzar had switched the phone on using a local SIM card, putting Bangalore police, who had obtained the handset’s IMEI number or its unique code, on the trail to Hindupur. Shown CCTV pictures of the Bangalore attack, Abuzar said the man who came to his shop with a bag and sold him the mobile was the same person in the footage.

The headway came on a day doctors said Jyoti had regained consciousness after multiple surgeries, including in the brain.

The footage released by Dharmavaram police showed a man in a blue striped shirt and carrying a bag withdrawing cash on November 11 and 12. The police said the suspect withdrew Rs 4,000 and Rs 15,000 using the stolen cards.

The police suspect that a local criminal killed Prameelamma and believe the murderer is the same person who attacked Jyoti on Tuesday.

After the attack, the man had walked out of the ATM kiosk downing the shutters. Jyoti lay bleeding and unconscious for three hours before passing schoolchildren spotted blood outside the ATM and alerted the police.

Anantapur police have sent posters based on the CCTV footage to railway stations, bus stands, police stations and even gram panchayats in areas that border Karnataka in an effort to smoke out the assailant.

Special teams from Karnataka have been rushed to neighbouring Andhra towns in Anantapur, Chittoor and Kadapa districts.