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Two questioned in connection with India courthouse blast

By Jim Yardley
New York Times / September 9, 2011

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NEW DELHI - Indian police interrogated at least two people from a cybercafe in the restive region of Kashmir yesterday as authorities investigated an e-mail purportedly from a terrorist group claiming responsibility for a fatal bomb attack at a courthouse in New Delhi.

The attack has sent a shiver of alarm through the capital as the toll of deaths and injuries rose to at least 12 people dead and more than 70 wounded. The blast occurred Wednesday morning at the Delhi High Court when a briefcase exploded at an outdoor reception area where scores of people were waiting to obtain passes to enter the building.

The attack has brought criticism to the New Delhi police and renewed questions about the ability of the government to prevent terrorism. In late May, the same courthouse suffered a minor bombing episode, prompting official promises to heighten security. Yet requests to install surveillance cameras have gotten bogged down in red tape.

“The government cannot wish away the terror threat,’’ editorialized The Times of India, the country’s largest English-language newspaper. “It must be fought with resolve, passion, 24/7 focus, and scientific countermeasures.’’

Investigators were trying yesterday to judge the credibility of two e-mails sent to different media outlets, each claiming responsibility for the attack. The first claimed to be from a Pakistan-linked extremist group, Harkut-ul-Jihad al-Islami. This e-mail led investigators to the cybercafe in Kashmir’s Kishtwar District, where police were interrogating suspects. Indian media reported that three people had been detained, but a local police official put the number at two.

“Our investigations are still on,’’ said M.K. Sinha, deputy inspector general of the police in Kishtwar. “We already detained two suspects and are questioning them. We may detain more later.’’

Meanwhile, U.K. Bansal, an official in India’s Home Ministry, confirmed that authorities were also examining a second e-mail putatively from a domestic group, the Indian Mujahedeen. The Indian Mujahedeen is an Islamist militant group that has taken responsibility for several past attacks in India.

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