Four Teams Probe Pune Blast, Cabinet Reviews Security

Pune/New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Two days after a terror attack killed nine people including three foreigners in a Pune bakery, police said Monday that they had "no concrete leads" to the bombers even as the union cabinet reviewed the security situation.

Pune Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters that four teams of Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) were probing the devastating blast at the landmark German Bakery that also left 60 people injured. It was the worst terror attack in India since the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

"So far we have not got any concrete leads on the perpetrators. We are investigating from all angles and we don't rule out anything," Singh said, speaking guardedly at a press conference.

It is not clear which group carried out the bombing, he said, but added that the probe "is proceeding in the right direction".

The Cabinet Committee on Security met in New Delhi Monday to discuss the investigation and the security situation in the country. Home Minister P. Chidambaram met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday afternoon to brief him about the bombing and its aftermath.

Intelligence officials say the materials used in Pune and the choice of a "soft target", an eatery, pointed to the involvement of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) terror outfit.

Security officials told IANS Monday that the nature of the attack bore the signature style of the IM, a home-grown Islamist terror outfit with suspected links to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Arrested members of the outfit were being interrogated again in connection with the explosion.

They include recently arrested operative Shahzad Ahmed alias Pappu, who was caught Feb 2 in Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.

"From preliminary examination, it (the blast) appears to be the handiwork of the IM," the official said on condition of anonymity. "The IM used Pune as one of its key bases. The city was on its radar for some time."

Though there has been no publicized breakthrough, police have obtained clues and are also examining CCTV footage from a luxury hotel opposite the German Bakery.

The CCTV footage shows images of two potential suspects entering the German Bakery, a popular restaurant in the upscale Koregaon Park in Pune, the official said. The Maharashtra ATS and National Investigation Agency (NIA) are studying the video.

"It shows two suspects. One is talking on the phone and the other is holding a backpack," a senior official said.

But the footage was said to be too "grainy and coarse" to give a clear idea of the men.

Meanwhile, Israel joined the increasing number of countries which have condemned the terror strike in Pune.

"Israel condemns in the strongest possible terms the heinous terrorist attack in Pune which claimed innocent lives leaving many injured," said a statement released by the Israeli embassy in New Delhi.

The German Bakery is located near a Chabad House, a Jewish prayer house. The Chabad House in Mumbai was one of the targets during the 2008 attacks.

The Israeli statement noted that "global terrorism is a major threat that must be combated without let-up".

The US, Britain and Australia have asked their citizens to be on the alert while travelling in India.


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