(AFP) – Aug 16, 2008
AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) — Indian police announced Saturday the arrest of 10 people over a string of blasts that killed 49 people last month in western Ahmedabad city.
The "mastermind" of the July 27 attacks, which also left 160 people injured, was an Islamic cleric arrested in the northern Indian city of Lucknow, said Ahmedabad police chief P.C. Pandey.
"It rarely happens that the mastermind of such a conspiracy can be arrested so soon after an attack of this scale," he told a news conference in the textile-producing city in Gujarat state.
All the 10 aged between 20 and 25 have been formally charged with murder and for "waging war against the state," Pandey said.
He did not rule out further arrests.
If convicted, the suspects, all Muslims, could face the death penalty.
"These men belong to the outlawed Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and were deeply involved in the attacks in Ahmedabad," Pandey said.
An Islamist group calling itself the Indian Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for the Ahmedabad blasts.
"Indian Mujahedeen is another name for SIMI -- all one must do is to remove the 'S' and the last 'I' from the banned outfit to get the acronym of the group that claims responsibility," he said.
Pandey described the string of 16 blasts as "diabolical" and labelled the arrests as a "great day for the Indian police."
The worst casualties occurred outside an Ahmedabad city hospital where a second round of blasts went off as ambulances raced in with those injured in the earlier attacks.
The Ahmedabad bombings came a day after a series of bombings in the southern high-tech city of Bangalore that killed one person and injured eight.
In the Gujarati city of Surat, police found 18 unexploded bombs a day after the Ahmedabad carnage. Police chief Pandey said manufacturing defects had stopped them detonating.
Gujarat was the scene of deadly riots in 2002 in which at least 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, were hacked, shot and burnt to death after 59 Hindus died in a train fire first blamed on Muslims but later ruled to be accidental.
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