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India Charges 4 in Bombay Car Bombing - 2003-09-01


Indian authorities have charged four people, including three members of one family, in connection with last week's car bombings in Bombay (Mumbai) that killed 52 people and injured nearly 150 others.

The suspects have been charged under anti-terrorism laws for planning the twin blasts that ripped through Bombay's top tourist spot and a crowded jewelry market last Monday.

They are also accused of being involved in a July bombing that killed three people on a bus in Bombay, India's financial hub and the capital of Maharashtra state.

The suspects include a married couple and their 18-year-old daughter.

Maharashtra's Deputy Chief Minister Chaggan Bhujbal said three members of the family along with one associate planned the bombings on August 25.

Three of those charged were brought to a Bombay court and ordered to remain in police custody until September 15. A fourth suspect did not appear in court because he has been hospitalized.

Police obtained clues from the driver of one of the two taxis in which the bombs were apparently placed. He survived the blast, and provided a description of three people who hired him for a two-day sight seeing tour of the city.

Police suspect the arrested people have links to the Pakistan-based Islamic guerrilla group called Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Bombay Police Commissioner Ranjit Sharma says the suspects called themselves the "Gujarat Muslim revenge force."

State authorities in Maharashtra have linked the bombings to religious violence in neighboring Gujarat state last year. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in riots, and state officials say the violence in Bombay could be retaliation for those killings.

Bombay's Assistant Police Commissioner Suresh Wali Shetty said a huge quantity of explosives, including plastic explosives, alarm clocks, and detonators, was recovered from hideouts the four suspects used.

Security has been tightened in Bombay as residents celebrate a popular 10-day festival that marks the birth of the Hindu god Ganesh. More than 30,000 police have been joined by thousands of volunteers to guard the celebrations in which millions of people participate.

Several other places in India have also been on high alert since the Bombay blasts. The past week has also seen an upsurge of violence in Indian Kashmir. In the capital, New Delhi, police said on Sunday that they had averted a major terrorist strike by a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, after they recovered a large amount of explosives and killed two suspected militants in a shootout.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will meet Wednesday with top officials to discuss the recent terrorist attacks.

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