Suicide Bomber Theory Gains Ground

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Speculation centres round wired body found at one of the blast sites

Speculation centres round wired body found at one of the blast sites

MUMBAI ~ A mangled body with wires attached to it was among the dead at one of the blast sites. The police also found a severed head, fuelling much speculation the morning after that a human bomb had set off at least one of the blasts. By Thursday afternoon the Union home ministry had confirmed that a suicide bomber could indeed have triggered the blasts at one site.

It was the NSG (National Security Guard) that found the body with wires, but their personnel wouldn’t reveal which of the three blast sites it was in. The idea of suicide bombers now targeting Mumbai has left the local police stunned. “We have been on high alert since the last terrorist attacks, but the possibility of a human bomb in last night’s attack is too shocking. The job of the police department just got tougher and extremely difficult,” said a senior police officer. Not just the police, the National Investigation Agency, whose personnel are also now in the city looking for evidence at the blast sites, were taken aback by the possibility of a human bomb.

Heavy rain has washed away crucial evidence, according to a police source. “It is easy to blame the police. How can a policeman expect a bomb in an umbrella on a day when there is incessant rain and the entire city is waterlogged?” asked another policeman. Unlike previous blasts, when the police were quick to pin the blame on either the Indian Mujaheedin (IM) or the Lashkar-e-Toiba, this time they have not made any official proclamations. They think the manner of the blasts and the use of IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) point to IM, though, officially the police are keeping mum. Neither Union home minister P Chidambaram nor his counterpart in the state, RR Patil, has confirmed the involvement of IM.

Unofficially, they also reveal that evidence recovered from the three sites indicates that ammonium nitrate was used. “Due to the rains the forensic experts will take some time to tell us what other devices were used,” said Rakesh Maria, chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, at a press conference today. He said it was too early to name names. “We are examining all possibilities. Please give us time. We will arrive at a conclusion based on scientific and investigative reports,” he said.

The use of ammonium nitrate is a significant shift from earlier blasts, in which RDX had been used. This is because investigating agencies are now more vigilant about RDX, which makes it hard to access for terror modules operating in the country. “Faced with the severe [RDX] crunch, ammonium nitrate is the back-up,” said a police source.

Predictably, the blast sites have attracted politicians of all parties. The already overburdened police force has to now take on the additional responsibility of providing security to visiting dignitaries. When BJP leader LK Advani visited the sites, party workers gathered in large numbers. Similarly the moment it was revealed that Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be visiting the city later in the evening, the Congress presence at the blast sites became very high.

Meanwhile, the body count from the three blast sites is now estimated at 17 dead and 133 injured.