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2 Detained in Connection with Gujarat Temple Attack - 2002-09-27

Indian authorities have detained two men in connection with this week's attack on a Hindu temple in Gujarat state that killed at least 30 people and wounded more than 70 others.

Police say the two suspects are believed to be the driver and the owner of a taxi which was apparently used by the two unidentified gunmen who raided the Akshardham temple in Gujarat's capital, Gandhinagar.

Authorities say they are trying to establish if the two suspects had any role in the attack, or had simply rented the taxi to the assailants.

The gunmen entered the temple Tuesday evening and sprayed gunfire on devotees during an overnight siege. They were killed when Indian commandoes stormed the temple.

The news agency Press Trust of India is reporting that police have identified the two militants as residents of the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Mohammed Amjad Bhai and Attock Hafiz Yasir. The report quotes highly placed sources.

There is no official confirmation of the report.

In New Delhi, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nirupama Rao, said the investigation is likely to conclude quickly.

"Valuable clues have been found and we are very optimistic we will be able to come to a definitive conclusion about who is responsible for this dastardly crime very soon," she announced.

Investigators have said letters found on the gunmen in the Urdu language indicated they belonged to an Islamic militant group. India's junior Home Minister I.D. Swami has said that the two gunmen who carried out the attack were foreigners.

New Delhi has not directly blamed Pakistan for the raid, but has hinted at Islamabad's possible involvement, saying the attack was similar to those carried out by Pakistan-based militant groups earlier on the parliament building in New Delhi and Kashmir's state assembly in Srinagar.

Islamabad has strongly denied the Indian charges, calling them irresponsible and ridiculous.

In Islamabad, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Friday that the attack was the "fallout" from the killings of Muslims in Gujarat. Mr. Musharraf was referring to bloody Hindu-Muslim riots that swept Gujarat earlier this year, claiming the lives of nearly 1,000 Muslims.