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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mumbai police kill man, say terror plans foiled

MUMBAI, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Indian police said they had foiled a possible terrorist attack in the financial hub of Mumbai after they shot dead a suspected Pakistani national and arrested another after a gun battle in the metropolis on Tuesday.

The shootout came less than a month and a half after serial bomb blasts hit packed commuter trains and stations in the city, killing 186 people and wounding about 700.

Acting on a tip-off, police surrounded a dilapidated building in a central neighbourhood and began searching for suspects linked with the July 11 attacks, A.N. Roy, Mumbai's police chief, told a news conference.

"We intercepted a car last night and arrested a person who led us to the hideout of his accomplice," Roy said. "There, the other man did not surrender and fired 18 rounds from an AK-47 rifle. We returned fire in which he was killed."

A senior officer had earlier said Tuesday's killing and arrest was a breakthrough in last month's train bombings as the two men were suspected to be linked to the attacks.

Asked if the two were suspects in the Mumbai bombings, Roy said: "They could be involved. But we have to investigate more. Obviously, they came with some ulterior motives."

The shootout took place at around 4:30 a.m. (2300 GMT).

Police identified the arrested man as Mohammed Riaz Nabiuddin and the dead as Mohammed Ali.

"The arrested terrorist told us he and his accomplice were from Pakistan," Roy said. Under Indian law, confessions made in police custody are not ordinarily admissible in court.

An AK-47 rifle, a pistol, bullets, detonators and some explosives were recovered from the duo, besides a map of Mumbai and a diary with international telephone numbers, mostly of Bangladesh, police said.

So far, 13 people have been arrested, including an engineer, a journalist, a computer software professional and a doctor, in connection with the July 11 strikes on the trains and stations that also wounded about 700 people.

"For the last 8-10 days we had intelligence inputs that terrorists could be hiding in Mumbai," K.P. Raghuvanshi, anti-terrorism squad chief, said earlier.

"Our suspicion is there could be more terrorists hiding in Mumbai."

Indian security officials say the blasts were carried out by local Muslims who had links to Pakistan. They say the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba is a prime suspect.

The Pakistani government and Lashkar have denied any role in the attacks and Islamabad has offered to help India investigate the bombings.

In response, New Delhi has challenged Islamabad to arrest Lashkar's leaders as well as an underworld crime boss blamed for serial bombings in Mumbai in 1993.
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