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Islamic group claims Indian bombings

By Associated Press
Published October 31, 2005

NEW DELHI - A little-known group that police say has ties to Kashmir's most feared militants claimed responsibility Sunday for a series of terrorist bombings that killed 59 people in New Delhi.

Authorities said they had gathered useful clues about the near-simultaneous blasts Saturday night that ripped through a bus and two markets crowded ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali, one of the year's busiest shopping seasons.

Investigators reportedly raided dozens of small hotels across India's capital looking for possible suspects, and police said numerous people were being questioned.

The attacks came at a particularly sensitive time as India and Pakistan were hashing out an unprecedented agreement to partially open the heavily militarized frontier that divides the disputed territory of Kashmir to speed relief to victims of a massive earthquake this month.

The agreement was finalized early Sunday, and Indian officials appeared hesitant to quickly put the blame for the bombings on Pakistan-based militants, unlike in previous terror attacks during a 16-year-old insurgency by Islamic separatists in India's part of Kashmir.

India's accusations of Pakistani involvement in a 2001 attack on parliament put the two nuclear-armed rivals on the brink of a fourth war. But they pulled back and, after pursuing peace efforts since early last year, both appeared intent on keeping the atmosphere calm.

"We have lots of information but it is not proper to disclose it yet," Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil told clamoring journalists after an emergency meeting of the Cabinet called to discuss the attacks. "Our people are making good progress. The investigation is going well."

A man called a local news agency in Indian Kashmir to say the militant Islamic Inquilab Mahaz, or Front for Islamic Uprising, staged the bombings, which police said killed 59 people and wounded 210.

The caller, who identified himself as Ahmed Yaar Ghaznavi, said the bombings were "meant as a rebuff to the claims of Indian security groups" that militants had been wiped out by security crackdowns and the Oct. 8 earthquake that devastated the insurgents' heartland in the mountains of Kashmir.

New Delhi's deputy police chief, Karnail Singh, said the group had not been very active since 1996.

However, while Singh refused to comment on the claim of responsibility, he said the group is linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, the most feared of the dozens of Kashmiri militant groups.

Police said they also were looking for a man in his 20s who refused to buy a ticket on a bus and got off in the Govindpuri neighborhood, leaving behind a large black bag.

Singh said that no one is under detention, but said many people were being questioned.

Search continues for bodies in train derailment

VELIGONDA, India - Naval boats searched for the dead Sunday as rescuers gave up on finding more survivors from a train that plunged into a river in southern India, killing at least 111 people, officials said.

The accident occurred early Saturday in Veligonda, in Andhra Pradesh state, after flash floods washed away a portion of the track.

By Sunday afternoon, rescuers had pulled out all survivors and dead bodies trapped in seven cars that derailed along with the train's engine, said J. P. Batra, chairman of the railway board.

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister K. Jana Reddy ruled out any new survivors. At least 11 bodies were found downstream overnight, raising the death toll to 111.

[Last modified October 31, 2005, 03:00:27]

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