March 23, 2014 / 10:49 AM / 5 years ago

Police arrest four suspected Indian Mujahideen militants

Police escort a suspected militant (face covered) after his arrest at a police station in Jodhpur in Rajasthan March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

(Reuters) - Police have arrested four suspected Islamist militants, including an aide of the leader of a militant group accused of several bomb blasts, who they said could be plotting an attack ahead of elections starting next month.

Zia-Ur-Rahman, alias Waqas, was arrested on Saturday in Ajmer in Rajasthan, the second major blow for the Indian Mujahideen after the capture of founder leader Yasin Bhatkal in Nepal last year.

Three other suspected members of the group were also arrested with a large quantity of explosives, police said.

Waqas, who police said was a Pakistani national, was wanted for bomb blasts in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad over the past several years, officials said.

The Indian Mujahideen militant group has been accused of dozens of bomb attacks over recent years. The group is also suspected of being behind an attack on a rally by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi last October that killed six people and wounded more than 80.

Police said the latest arrests were made possible after they gathered information from two arrested Indian Mujahideen militants including Bhatkal.

“Their target was a terror strike,” S.N. Srivastava, a top police official in New Delhi, told a news conference on Sunday, but declined to comment when asked if Narendra Modi was being targeted, saying they needed further investigation.

“Any important event, including elections, could be targeted.”

Interior Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the arrest of Waqas was a great success as he was a crucial link to the group.

Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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