Bhubaneswar/Visakhapatnam, Jan 28: Five suspected terrorists who fled from a hotel in Bhubaneswar after being asked to produce identity proofs on Republic Day eve were detained in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.
After being alerted by Odisha, its Andhra Pradesh counterpart intercepted a vehicle with Delhi registration number and nabbed the five persons, including two women.
"The persons who had been detained by Visakhapatnam police were the suspected terrorists who had fled from Odisha on the night of January 25," IG Crime Branch Arun Bothra said in Bhubaneswar. Bothra said CCTV footages in the hotel and Girisola check gate in Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border matched with the persons and the vehicle carrying them.
"The CCTV footage indicates that the car used by the four suspected terrorists has crossed the check gate at Girisola bordering Andhra Pradesh.
The vehicle bearing the same Delhi registration number crossed the check gate on the night of January 25, about seven hours after being sighted here," a police officer involved in the investigation said earlier. Meanwhile, all the five have Iranians passports and not Iraqi ones, he said.
The manager of the hotel in which one of the suspects had entered had told the police that the person identified himself as an Iraqi national. Bothra, who heads the Special Task Force (STF) probing the incident, said the manager might have heard it wrong as Iraq and Iran sound quite similar.
"They had hired a car from a travel agent in Delhi. Our men went to that travel agent and found that the owner of the car is a jewellery shop," Bothra said. It appears the owner of jewellery shop had given the vehicle to the travel agent on hire.
Noting that all the five have been detained and not arrested, Bothra said an STF team will go to Visakhapatnam tomorrow to ascertain the purpose of their visit to Odisha and why they fled from the hotel when identity proof was sought.
On whether the five would be brought to Bhubaneswar, he said, that would be decided depending on the situation. If it is found that they are clean, they will not be arrested and there will be no question of bringing them here, the IG said.
The state government yesterday sounded high alert after the disappearance of the four men. The police have released CCTV grabs of the vehicle and one of the four suspected persons last evening and sought public help to nab them.