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Cops taken aback by possible IM links

Thinking they had neutered most of the terror outfit what with arrests and constant scrutiny following blasts over past 3 years latest strike comes as a shock to police, intel agencies

Mumbaikars, and the rest of the nation for that matter, may have met the latest terror strike with morbid reactions along the lines of 'not again', but the investigating agencies were left considerably dumbfounded at the repeat performance.

Not only did they not have any inkling of an assault at this time, they were also not expecting it, after allegedly having compromised several terrorist modules following the series of blasts in 2008 in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Surat.

A particular shocker was that clues garnered from the blast sites point at the involvement of the Indian Mujahideen (see box).

Following the arrest of accused IM terrorists in Gujarat in 2008 and recently in Indore, reports had claimed that the IM had been relegated to being defunct, what with over 50 of its operatives under arrest.

After the German Bakery blast in Pune, more IM operatives had been nabbed and jailed. So claims that Wednesday's triple blasts bore the IM's signature were particularly disturbing.

A senior police officer from the Mumbai police said that the force was shocked at the blast, which came without any forewarning in the way of tip-offs. Also, while there has been continuous collection of inputs, agencies have been relative tranquil after busting the extensive IM module and imprisoning its active members.

Police sources said that the outfit's handlers, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, have constantly been under police scanner, as have been their main henchmen. Moreover, they are all out of the country.
 
Sources said that the jailed IM suspects, Mohammed Mobin (32) and his cousin Ayub Raja (28), arrested with arms and ammunition on July 6, were being questioned afresh, along with many others behind bars.

A senior official, however, said that it could have been the work of a local sleeper cell. Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria said in a conference, "We have not ruled out any module. It is too early to say who is behind the attack at this moment. We are investigating all possible angles."

His comments come as the investigation has been handed over to the ATS. The Mumbai Crime Branch will assist the squad, since it has been the investigating agency so far.

Clues point to IM
The explosives used for the bombings at Dadar, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House bear the IM's stamp. The bombs were packed with ammonium nitrate, splinters, with a ball bearing and a time device, just like the ones used for the blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat and New Delhi in 2008, Varanasi and Pune in 2010.
Also, the manner of placing the bombs in crowded bustling places, yet hidden from sight - is similar to previous bombings by IM.

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