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Mumbai blasts: 'LeT operative's claims to be verified'

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September 03, 2006 19:22 IST

Police on Sunday said they were yet to verify Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative Toufiq Akmal Hashmi's claim in a media interview that some 17 terrorists were involved in the July 11 bomb blasts in commuter trains in Mumbai.

A Mumbai court on Sunday remanded Hashmi to the custody of the Anti-Terrorism Squad till September 13, but police officials said his interrogators are yet to verify his claims made to a TV news channel.

Hashmi, who was arrested by the army in Jammu and Kashmir on August 23, had claimed in an interview that 17 men --- some of them Kashmiris and the others from Pakistan -- were involved in the bombings that killed 200 people.

He claimed all but one of the men had left Mumbai.

This gave rise to speculation that the unidentitied body of a victim of July 11 blasts kept in a morgue in Mumbai, could be that of the terrorist who had stayed in Mumbai.

ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi, however, told reporters the agency had no confirmation yet in this regard.

"We decided to bring Hashmi to Mumbai after hearing his interview, but so far we haven't got any information from him," Raghuvanshi said.

Raghuvanshi said the only information they had at the moment was that Hashmi was a Pakistani national and that he served in the Pakistan Army for a while.

Hashmi is the tenth person to be arrested in connection with the blasts.

Raghuvanshi said the ATS was focussing on finding the local persons involved in the blasts. "It is the missing link," he said.

He refused to say whether Hashmi could be deliberately misleading investigators.     

The ATS also obtained custody for two other persons -- Mohammad Sohail and Mohammad Zubair alias Mohammed Bilal -- who were arrested by the Border Security Force near the West Bengal-Bangladesh border two weeks ago.

They are suspected to be connected to the recovery of an arms cache found in and around Aurangabad in Maharashtra in May.

They were remanded to police custody only for a day by the holiday court. They will be produced on Monday in a regular court so that police can seek custody for a longer period.

Raghuvanshi said the men had revealed during questioning that they were fidayeen (suicide bombers) and there were six more fidayeen who were supposed to follow them to India.

They were supposed to meet a contact in Kolkata, and police are looking for this person.

Another person, Shakil Abu Warsi, who was arrested in Nagpur last week, has also been handed over to ATS on suspicion of being involved in the July 11 blasts.

The suspicion arose after police in Nagpur subjected Warsi to narco-analysis tests. He was on Sunday remanded to the custody of the ATS till September 8.

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