Thursday, December 8, 2022

Mangaluru blast: Probe expands across 2 more southern states

The probe into the November 19 explosion in Karnataka’s coastal city of Mangaluru is expanding across two more southern states, as the “global terrorist organisation-inspired” key suspect behind the blast is said to have visited Tamil Nadu and Kerala and police teams are looking into possible local accomplices and links to the Thirthalli native.
Mohammed Shariq, hailing from Thirthahalli in Shivamogga district in Karnataka, was travelling in an autorickshaw with a pressure cooker fitted with detonator, wires and batteries, when it exploded on the outskirts of Mangaluru on Saturday.Karnataka police described it as an act of terror aimed at creating serious damage.
Shariq had suffered burn injuries and is currently being treated in a city hospital and unable to speak.
“His handler was Abdul Mateen Taha from Suddaguntepalya (in Bengaluru) on whom the National Investigation Agency has announced a reward of Rs five lakh,” Karnataka ADGP (Law and Order) Alok Kumar said on Monday.
Shariq was “influenced and inspired” by a (terrorist) organisation with global presence, Kumar added.
“…Our priority is to see that he survives, we have to take him to a stage where we can question him,” Kumar said.
“We found matchbox, sulphur, phosphorus, batteries, circuit and nut and bolts from the house,” he said referring to the rented accomodation of the accused in Mysuru. Mohan Kumar, the owner of the house, was not aware of these activities, the ADGP added. Taha was the “main handler”. He along with Khwaja and Mohammed Pasha from Tamil Nadu were booked under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act at Suddaguntepalya in Bengaluru in 2020.
In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, police have launched a probe to ascertain whether Shariq has any accomplices in the state, with Coimbatore recently witnessing a deadly explosion where the victim, also the alleged perpetrator was planning to carry out suicide attacks.
It is now clear that Shariq had bought a SIM card for a mobile phone using the Aadhaar card of a native of Ooty, Surendran, police sources said. Investigations are on to check whether Shariq’s stay in September in Coimbatore, which witnessed the blast last month, was part of a larger criminal conspiracy, they said.
Surendran, now being questioned by police, had stayed in the same dormitory with Shariq, who had befriended him to get the Aadhaar card. According to the National Investigation Agency, Coimbatore based Jamesha Mubeen, after taking an oath of allegiance to the ISIS, was planning to carry out attacks.
Mubeen died on October 23 after a car he travelled exploded in front of a temple in Coimbatore, a western city in Tamil Nadu. The vehicle had explosives and gas cylinders. Police sources said the current probe, among other aspects, is to find out if Shariq was in touch with Mubeen. Authorities of a Coimbatore school, where Surendran worked a few years ago, are also likely to inquired soon.
Further, a 22-year old man, who is a native of Assam was reportedly questioned by police for having spoken to Shariq over phone. The young man, for a couple of years, has been working at a hotel in Kanyakumari district. Police have intensified vigil across inter-State borders and at all places, where people congregate in large numbers, and all vehicles entering Tamil Nadu are being thoroughly checked.
Meanwhile, in Kerala, a team of Karnataka police officials probing the Mangaluru blast reached Ernakulam to inquire into Shariq’s Aluva link.
Police sources said the intelligence wing of the state police is also probing the Aluva connection of the accused.

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