Police arrest Indian Mujahideen leader involved in attack on Modi rally

NEW DELHI Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:23pm IST

Smoke rises after a bomb exploded near a public ground where Gujarat's chief minister Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was to address a rally in Patna October 27, 2013. REUTERS/Krishna Murari Kishan/Files

Smoke rises after a bomb exploded near a public ground where Gujarat's chief minister Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was to address a rally in Patna October 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Krishna Murari Kishan/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Police have arrested the suspected head of the Indian Mujahideen militant group, believed to have been involved in a spate of bombings including an attack on a campaign rally of prime ministerial front runner Narendra Modi last year.

Tehseen Akhtar's capture on the border with Nepal came days after four members of the Islamist group were picked up with a large quantity of explosives that police said may have been kept to attack next month's election.

The Indian Mujahideen has carried out dozens of bombings in recent years and poses the most serious threat so far from a home grown group in Hindu majority India.

But intelligence officials say the group is backed by Pakistan and in 2011 the United States designated it as a terrorist organisation with close links to Pakistan-based groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Delhi special police commissioner S.N.Srivastava told reporters on Tuesday that Akhtar was running the group's operations ever since its founder Yasin Bhatkal was captured in Nepal last October.

Police have tightened security around Modi, targeted by militants who hold him responsible for riots in Gujarat in 2002 in which at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, died.

A series of bombs went off at Modi's ally in Patna in October, killing six people and wounding more than 80. He was not near any of the blasts but his security was increased to roughly equal that of a prime minister.

Akhtar was named as the chief organiser of that attack after police picked up two suspects from the state.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani)

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