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ATS begins probe; Malegaon tense but peaceful

Written by: Staff
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Malegaon, Sep 9 (UNI) The Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) accompanied by Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) officials began their probe into the twin blasts that rocked this powerloom town situated in North Maharashtra yesterday killing 38 persons.

The investigators with sniffer dogs visited the blasts sites in Bada Kabrastan and Musharwat Chowk and collected samples to look for vital clues.

ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi and ACP Subodh Jaiswal have arrived here to supervise the investigations. The blasts which came two days after the peaceful conclusion of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival cast a pall of gloom in this Muslim dominated town with a population of around ten lakh. The terrorist attacks took place after the prayers on ''Shab-e-baraat'' (night of salvation).

These are the second terror attacks in two months in Maharashtra.

India's financial capital Mumbai was attacked on July 11 after bombs planted in the metropolis's suburban trains exploded within ten minutes at seven places killing 181 commuters.

Locals in Malegaon, which is situated nearly 300 km away from the state capital, complained there was shortage of medical relief immediately after the blasts resulting in more deaths.

The town in which curfew was clamped, after the incident yesterday, resembled a fortress after the terror strike. Curfew was lifted this morning and the situation has remained peaceful. The locals, who are mostly poor workers are still recovering from the shock.

The Maharashtra government announced a cash prize of Rs five lakh to persons giving information that could lead the ATS to vital clues in the investigations. This was stated by state Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil here yesterday.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi who visited the town this morning described the twin blasts as a ''dastardly act'' aimed at dividing the people of the country.

Interacting with the media after visiting the blasts sites and the hospitals where the injured are being treated, Ms Gandhi said she was in the city to see the damage caused by the blasts and express condolences to the families of the victims.

''The perpetrators of the crime will not succeed in their designs as we are one and united,'' she added.

Ms Gandhi was accompanied by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Mr Patil said the police and the intelligence machinery are doing their best to book the culprits responsible for the terror attack.

''Everything necessary is being done. The Centre and the State are co-operating and intelligence is being shared,'' he added.

Mr Patil said the only way to thwart the perpetrator's aim is by maintaining communal harmony. He appreciated the resilience shown by both the communities after the terrorist attacks.

UNI MR ADG PA BD1634

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