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Serial bomb blasts in Mumbai

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19:20 on 13 July, 2011

Google still hasn’t picked up on this, but the news is trending on twitter. The earliest tweet was from NDTV, and it led to this report:

The explosions were in busy areas of Mumbai

There are reports of multiple blasts in Mumbai.

One explosion has reportedly taken place behind a temple in Dadar in a car. There is another blast near the Opera House in South Mumbai and a third being reported from Zaveri Bazaar.

Unconfirmed reports suggest 15 people have been injured.

IBN also posted an early tweet pointing to this report:

Police, ambulance, home guards and fire brigade were rushed to the spot. The incident happened at 7:10 pm on Wednesday.

Home Ministry is still not calling it a bomb blast.

Home Secretary has spoken to Maharashtra DGP.

20:00 on 13 July, 2011

Google has picked up the news. NDTV reports that the government is treating this as a terror attack:

The Home Ministry has confirmed a terrorist attack and Mumbai is on high alert.

All blasts took place during rush hour and in crowded places.

Eyewitnesses said about 15 to 20 people have taken to hospital in Zaveri Bazar. Reports said six people had died in the Dadar blast, four in the Zaveri Bazaar blast.

One explosion, in a car at a bus stop in Dadar West, has been confirmed. A police officer said there might have been an explosive in a meter box behind a hoarding at Khau gali, a street filled with eateries at Zaveri Bazaar. The Opera House blast took place at Prasad Chamber.

An unexploded bomb has also reportedly been found in Dadar and a bomb disposal squad is working to defuse it.

First photos from the Opera House diamond market

21:00 on 13 July, 2011

The Hindu reports:

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithivraj Chavan said[:]

“As per preliminary reports, about 55 to 56 persons have been injured in the three blasts and they have been rushed to St. George, Nair and KEM hospitals,” Chavan told PTI.

He said there is no official confirmation on number of casualties yet. Chavan said State ATS officials are at the spots to ascertain the nature of the blasts.

He said blasts were reported in Panchratna building [correct location: Prasad Chambers] in Diamond Market area at Opera House, Bank of India branch in Zaveri Bazaar near Mumbadevi temple and Kabutar Khana near Hanuman temple in Dadar West.

Financial Express reports:

The terror strike coincided with the birthday of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman in 26/11, who turned 24 today. [False. Traced to rumour spread by film maker Ram Gopal Varma on twitter. New tweet retracts this piece of misinformation.]

Home Minister P Chidambaram indicated that at least 10 people have been killed and over 100 injured. He expressed the fear that the number of the dead is likely to rise further.

However, Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan said that at least 13 people have been killed.

22:00 on 13 July, 2011

IBN publicizes help-line numbers:

Emergency numbers: 022-22621855; 022-22621983; 022-22625020; 022-22641449; 022-22620111

KEM Hospital: 022-24136051

Nair [Hospital]: 022-23085379

Harkishandas [Hospital]: 23855555/30095555

Saifee [Hospital]: 022-6757 0111

The Hindu reports:

[Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram] said the National Security Guard (NSG) hub in Mumbai, set up in the wake of 26/11 terror attack in the city in 2008, has been put on standby. He said the elite force’s ‘post-blast’ team has also been sent to Mumbai.

The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) team from Delhi and Hyderabad has been sent to Mumbai, he said. Mr. Chidambaram said that a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), led by an IG rank officer, will also leave for Mumbai during the night.

Mr. Chidambaram was directed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to do everything necessary after serial blasts rocked Mumbai and keep him updated.

The Prime Minister, who was monitoring the developments related to the three explosions, spoke to the Home Minister as well as Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, PMO sources said. While speaking to Mr. Chidambaram, Dr. Singh asked him to do the needful and update him.

23:00 on 13 July, 2011

HT reports:

The home ministry on Wednesday said it would be premature to name the terrorist group behind the serial blasts in Mumbai that killed at least 10 people and left scores injured. “It would be premature to name the organisation behind the blasts. It is, however, certain that a terrorist organisation is behind the blast,” UK Bansal, secretary (Internal Security) in the home ministry, told a news channel.

01:00 on 14 July, 2011

The Australian records:

THE death toll after three bombs ripped through India’s commercial capital Mumbai is at least 21 dead and more than 100 injured.

India’s Home Ministry said at least 21 people had been killed and 141 injured, many of them seriously in the overnight attacks.

DNA writes:

In the wake of serial blasts in the metropolis, home minister P Chidambaram is arriving here tonight to take stock of the situation and meet the injured and victims and their family members.

Official sources said the home minister is expected to arrive late in the night and then visit the three blast sites, meet the injured admitted in the hospitals and some of the family members of the dead.

Chidambaram will chair a meeting with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and top civil and police officers to take stock of the situation in Mumbai following this evening’s three explosions.

NewsX ticker on the TV claims at this time that Chidambaram is already at the site of the explosion in Dadar.

09:30 on 14 July, 2011

NDTV reports:

Heavy rain continued to lash Mumbai overnight, but has not hampered post-blast investigations. Sources said plastic sheets were placed at the three sites soon after the blasts last evening and early samples were collected and safely preserved.

Teams from the National Investigating Agency (NIA) collected the forensic evidence from the locations. The samples are being examined at Mumbai’s Kalina Forensic Lab in Kurla – the details they reveal will be shared this afternoon by investigators. Detailed inspections will then be carried out by teams from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Hyderabad and Delhi. These Central teams reached Mumbai last night.

The police also say that security cameras opposite the bus stop at Dadar and from Opera House should provide important clues.

13:00 on 14 July, 2011

ET reported earlier:

Expressing “deep regret” to the people of Mumbai over the incident, [Chidambaram] said the probe will not start on any “pre-determined assumptions” and will cover every terror group that has the capacity to carry out such strikes in the country.

“There was no specific intelligence input on this…whenever there is an intelligence, we share it with the states,” he told a 70-minute press conference here.

“We are not ruling out any angle. We will probe (the involvement of) every terror group…The investigations into the attack will not start on pre-determined assumptions,” he said.

Asked whether the blasts were an attempt to derail the Indo-Pak talks later this month, Chidambaram said that every angle will probed in the case.

“I do agree that the Indo-Pak talks will be held this month, in ten days from now. We are not ruling out any angle. We will probe every angle,” he said.

The Home Minister also said that India was living in the “most troubled neighbourhood” as Pakistan and Afghanistan are the “epicentres” of terrorism.

Giving details about investigations carried out since last night, Chidambaram said ammonium nitrate, an explosive substance, was used in the IEDs which had timer devices.

Questions are again being raised about state Home Minister R. R. Patil’s handling of the portfolio. It has not escaped anyone’s attention that Patil was the home minister during the botched handling of the 2008 terrorist attack, and that last night it was the chief minister who constantly briefed the media and urged calm. IE comments:

Even the performance of the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad under present Home Minister R R Patil is much to be desired.

Patil is already on the firing line by the Opposition parties for his inept handling of the Home Department.

Even the murder case of crime journalist J Dey was cracked by the Mumbai police only after Chavan intervened directly on the case after the Mumbai High Court rapped the state government for the delay in nabbing the accused. Patil was drawn flak then for handling of the case. On Wednesday, Chavan went into damage control mode soon after the incident by himself leading the strategic planning by camping in Mantralaya. He only officially relased the death toll.

Later from time to time, he briefed media about the rise in death toll.

19:30 on 14 July, 2011

24 hours after the blasts it seems that no clues are forthcoming. The investigation may be long. IE reports:

There has so far been no claim of responsibility for setting off near-simultaneous improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were packed with ammonium nitrate during the evening rush hour on Wednesday.

“There was no intelligence regarding a militant attack in Mumbai. That is not a failure of intelligence agencies,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told a news conference.

“(We) know that perpetrators have attacked and have worked in a very, very clandestine manner,” he said.

He said that it was too early to point the finger at a particular group, but said the coordinated terror attacks could be in retaliation to a number of plots recently stopped by police or arrests, including from the Indian Mujahideen.

The complete absence of intelligence is actually rather worrisome.

22:00 on 14 July, 2011

HT now reports:

Chidambaram rushed to Mumbai to review the situation and told reporters that ammonium nitrate, an explosive substance, was used in the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) triggered by timer devices to carry out the “well coordinated” terror attack.

He also ruled out the use of remote control to trigger the blasts in Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar areas.

Union home secretary RK Singh did not rule out the involvement of a suicide bomber.

“The NSG DG has informed that a body with circuit has been found from one of the sites. The body was found near the explosion site. We are not ruling out anything,” he told reporters in New Delhi.

Singh was replying to a question about the possibility of involvement of a suicide bomber in the blasts as the body was found with a circuit near one of the blast sites.

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria said it was too early to say whether a “human bomb” was involved.

On the possibility of cross border linkages with yesterday’s blasts, secretary (internal security) in the home ministry U K Bansal said “As of now there is no ground to believe that there is any link of anyone from across the border.”

NDTV adds:

The three bombs that shook Mumbai on Wednesday were Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), prepared with a deadly mixture of ammonium nitrate, Tri-Nitro Toluene (TNT) and fuel oil. Seventeen people have been killed and 131 were injured in the trio of blasts.

Ball bearings were used as shrapnel and smart cellphones as timers.

“Ammonium nitrate was used. The fact that blasts took place within minutes of each other shows it was a coordinated terror attack,” said Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.

In two of the three bombs, over a kilo of explosives were used. Also, the group behind the strike is smaller than usual and did not communicate on phones or emails – a new strategy to avoid being tracked.

14:00 on 15 July, 2011

IBN reported:

Mumbai Police along Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are investigating all the leads found at the three blast sites to crack the case. Union Home Secretary RK Singh said that the CCTV footage from Dadar, Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar was being scrutinised closely to try and spot the culprits who may have planted the bombs.

Singh said that the Activa scooter used to carry out the blasts at Zaveri Bazaar has been identified and several people are being questioned.

“CCTV footage is being scrutinised. We are trying to identify the people in the footage. It will also be shown to the residents of the area so that they can identify if the people are from the area or are outsiders,” said Singh.

Forensic teams have already collected evidence like blood samples, explosive materials from all the three locations.

19:20 on 15 July, 2011

48 hours after the blasts, there are may be leads. BS reported:

Security agencies have identified the owner of the two-wheeler in which the explosive material was planted at Zaveri bazar in Mumbai as cyber experts are looking into an email which may have some cross-border links.

Union Home Secretary RK Singh said investigations into the serial blasts in the metropolis was going on and several people were being questioned based on their “previous known linkages”.

17 July, 2011

IE reports:

There is now “absolute unanimity” that the three bombs used in Wednesday’s terror attack in Mumbai were packed inside metallic containers and triggered by digital timers.

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria revealed this here on Saturday, adding that a sketch of a suspect should be ready by late Saturday based on eyewitness account from one of the blast sites. The police are also trying to locate an individual seen in the CCTV image picked up from another blast site, he said, confirming that they have “two leads for two blast sites”, and that these were “good leads”.

The police have been able to pinpoint the location of each of the blasts from the forensic evidence available. The Kurla resident’s claim that he had heard four persons conspiring at a guesthouse in Kalyan has turned out to be a false lead.

A call from Buldhana is the only one that is still to be verified. Police are also checking details of a few other scooters parked at Zaveri Bazaar at the time of the blast. The scooter in which the bomb was hidden has been traced to a local goldsmith based in Byculla. “It is registered in Gujarat, with the owner traced to Mumbai. It’s not a suspect vehicle.”

India Today reports:

Investigators probing Wednesday’s serial blasts in Mumbai believe that three different terror modules may have used rented accommodations close to the blast sites for making the lethal bombs.

The significant headway came three days after the triple explosions rocked the maximum city. The Maharashtra anti-terrorist squad chief Rakesh Maria, on Saturday claimed good leads and said that based on CCTV footage the investigators had identified one of the suspects. Without clarifying if it was the same man who was identified in the CCTV footage, Maria said that with the help of eyewitness accounts a sketch of the suspect was being prepared. He said the sketch will not be made public as it could hamper probe.

The sleuths were basing their neighbourhood safe house theory on forensic evidence which has revealed that the sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IED) would have been highly unstable to be carried long distances.

Since the bombs went off one after another at different places within a gap of minutes, investigators believe there were three different modules which could have stayed at the three different locations and then planted bombs in a coordinated way.

Investigators were now checking places near Dadar, Zaveri Bazar and Opera House to see if any unknown person had rented out flats there.

Maria said they had been able to identify a suspect from one of the CCTV cameras but refused to divulge his name. The ATS chief also said that based on eye-witness accounts they are also going to make a sketch of one of the suspects but will not release it to the public as it could impede investigations. The sketch would be circulated only among police officers.

Morning of 18 July, 2011

A suspect who was questioned by the police died in a hospital soon after, reports the Telegraph:

Faiz Usmani died after questioning

The brother of a prime accused in a serial bombing case died in a hospital hours after Mumbai police had picked him up for interrogation on Wednesday’s explosions.

The relatives of Faiz Usmani, a 42-year-old grocer, alleged he was tortured but the police denied the charge and ordered a CID inquiry.

The provisional post-mortem report said the body had no external injuries. “The report has revealed that there are no external injuries. The death was caused by brain haemorrhage and heart infarction. The viscera have been preserved,” said Dr T.P. Lahane, the dean of JJ Hospital, where the post-mortem was carried out.

Others said it would have to be a coincidence for brain haemorrhage and myocardial infarction (or heart attack) to happen naturally at the same time. Intense emotional or physical stress may trigger a heart attack in a heart patient. Similar conditions can cause bleeding in the brain.

TOI discovers more than one reason why this is a bit of a setback for the investigation:

Faiz’s wife Ruheda Usmani alleged foul play. The government on Sunday ordered a CID inquiry into his death.

Immediately after the incident, officials of the crime branch,police station and ATS units were asked by senior officials to go slow on the interrogations . “Now many suspects will hide behind this case and approach their advocates or human rights activists and stall our investigations ,” said a senior inspector.

ATS sources said they had to let off several suspects who were picked up for questioning and they could not pick up another set of suspects as most of them have disappeared fearing Faiz’s fate.

Evening of 18 July, 2011

IE reports:

On being alerted by the Intelligence Bureau, the Bihar Police on Saturday evening conducted raids at Barchaundhi village under Mahuakhali police station in Kisanganj district and picked up a suspected HuJI member, Riyazul Sarkar (30).

Riyazul, who uses aliases Aakash Sheikh, Riyazul Khan and Aakash Khan, reportedly carried three mobile phones and a diary written in Marathi. He was picked up from the house of one Mahtab Alam, who, too, was detained by the police.

Sources said the NIA has been reportedly in touch with the state police and that the diary and phones may provide vital leads.

19 July, 2011

It begins to look like the investigation is not going to end soon. It has already fallen off the media radar as the police stonewalls on details.

IE reports:

With state Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria stating that all angles were being pursued and no terror outfit will be named as suspects in Wednesday’s serial blasts in the city till the case is cracked, sources revealed that investigators are also probing whether a combine of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Indian Mujahideen (IM) was involved in the latest attack.

Members of the LeT and IM had joined hands to execute the February 13 German Bakery blast in Pune last year. Sources said the two outfits might have once again pooled their resources, with several IM operatives having been arrested in nationwide crackdowns in the recent past.

TOI reported:

Sources said the ATS, with the help of the Gujarat ATS, detained three suspects from Ahmedabad who are believed to be new IM recruits. The three have reportedly spilled the beans on the entire conspiracy. They are being brought to Mumbai for further investigations to decide the veracity of their statements. “We have now got concrete leads and are very confident of cracking the case,” said a senior officer.

Intercepted phone calls and emails have also given clues to investigators that the 13/7 triple blasts may have a Gujarat connection. The state ATS, along with central agencies, has been monitoring phone calls, which led to clues being unearthed on Saturday. “The calls intercepted are suspicious. Some calls are just two to three minutes long, but seem important. We cannot ignore such calls. Investigations are at such a stage that we cannot utter a single word about the probe,” said a senior ATS officer.

20 July, 2011

There are worrying signs of intelligence failure. Most telling is the continuing news of late questioning and debriefing of arrested or suspected operatives of the IM.
The Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses summarized in a recent article:

Analysts believe that the signs of an imminent attack have been around. Post Osama bin Laden’s elimination, a spike in attacks was expected. There has been an increase in the number of foiled terror plots in the past few months; from bombs suspected to be planted on trains to the ones diffused outside the Delhi High Court and the recent arrests of over “two dozen Indian Mujahideen (IM) and SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India) members from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Mumbai” in June 2011; which now are believed to have held vital cues to the 13/7 Mumbai serial blasts.

ET now reports:

Central security agencies are concerned at the failure of the Varanasi blasts investigators to secure the electronic trail of e-mail and suspect phone calls made just before and after the December 2010 bomb attack, as they feel this could hold the key to a common perpetrator who also executed the recent Mumbai blasts .

Both the e-mail, sent out barely minutes after the Varanasi blasts in the name of Al Fateh , a purported front of Indian Mujahideen, and at least two calls made by a person using a cellphone near the Sheetla Ghat, were traced to Mumbai by the Uttar Pradesh anti-terrorism squad (ATS). While the e-mail was sent by hacking into an unsecured Wifi network based in Navi Mumbai, the calls were traced to Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai.

Unfortunately, the electronic trail appears to have run dry from there.

September 7, 2011

Following the Delhi High Court bomb blast today, ET reports:

Nearly two months after the July 13 triple blasts in the city killed 26 people, Mumbai police are now exploring the possible connections of that incident with Wednesday’s terror attack in the national capital.

The police have yet to reach a conclusive breakthrough in the July 13 blasts at Dadar, Opera House and Zaveri Bazar.

A striking aspect is the use of the deadly ammonium nitrate in the blast outside Delhi High Court, as happened in the Mumbai blasts.

The Mumbai blasts case remains unsolved, just like the May 25 explosion outside Delhi High Court’s gate no.3.

The July 13 blasts are being jointly probed by state ATS and Mumbai police, which have yet to make any arrests in the case.

Jan 22, 2012

The Mumbai anti-terrorism squad and the Delhi police have a turf war, let the main accused escape, but one of them claims to have arrested the kingpins


4 Responses

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  1. […] is a sentiment one reads on discussion boards and comments sections of news items on the latest Mumbai serial bombings. TOI reminds us of the dangers involved in such pronouncements: The 2006 Malegaon blast, which […]

  2. […] is the first time I have seen a definitive statement that the organization behind the Mumbai blasts is known. Share this:TwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  3. […] Maharashtra’s Anti-terrorism squad claims to have solved the Mumbai multiple bombings case of half a year ago. Moneycontrol reported: The Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) on Monday claimed to have cracked […]

  4. […] Shaikh (23), Asadulla Akhtar Javed Akhtar (26) and Waqas alias Ahmed (26) were allegedly behind three coordinated bomb explosions at Opera House, Zaveri Zazaar and Dadar West in Mumbai on July 13, 2011, leaving 27 dead and 130 […]

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