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Indian police arrest militant planning 'suicide attacks'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Indian police said on Friday they had arrested an Islamist militant who was allegedly planning to carry out "suicide attacks" in New Delhi after travelling to India from Pakistan via Nepal.

S.N. Srivastava, who heads an anti-terrorism unit, identified the suspect as Syed Liaqat Shah from Indian-administered Kashmir who had come from Pakistan to Nepal on a Pakistani passport.

"He was instructed to recruit people, choose targets and organise suicide attacks in New Delhi," Srivastava told a news conference in the Indian capital.

Shah was planning to organise the attacks in New Delhi to "avenge" the execution of a Kashmiri militant last month for his role in a 2001 attack by Pakistani-based gunmen on the Indian parliament, he said.

The execution of Mohammed Afzal Guru, convicted of helping to plot the attack on the parliament that left 10 people dead, has driven up tensions in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, whose ownership India disputes with Pakistan.

"The Pakistani passport was made by the suspect's handlers in Pakistan and he was instructed to destroy it on his arrival in Kathmandu to break any link with Pakistan," Srivastava said.

The last militant attack in New Delhi was in 2011 when a bomb killed 13 people outside a court in the city while in 2008, a series of bombs planted in shopping areas killed 22.

The suspect, alleged to belong to Kashmir's largest militant outfit, the Hizbul Mujahideen, was detained on Wednesday in the eastern Indian city of Gorakhpur near the border with Nepal, he said.

Shah had been due to take a train for New Delhi and meet with a contact in a hotel room near Jama Masjid, New Delhi's largest mosque, he said.

Srivastava said detectives raided the room and found an assault rifle, three hand grenades and ammunition. "We are still interrogating the man and expect more arrests soon," he added.

The suspect left Indian Kashmir for Pakistan in 1997 when a separatist insurgency against New Delhi was at its peak in the Indian-held zone, Srivastava said.

This was the latest in a recent string of arrests by Indian authorities of militant suspects with alleged connections to nuclear-armed rival Pakistan with which India has fought three wars.

Police in Indian Kashmir on Tuesday said they had arrested four people including a Pakistani member of militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) over an attack that killed five policemen last week.

India accuses Pakistan of fomenting violence on Indian soil, charges which Islamabad rejects.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/indian-police-arrest-militant-planning-suicide-attacks