India arrests 'most-wanted' militant near Nepal border: home minister
By Adam Plowright, AFPNEW DELHI -- India announced Thursday the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal, one of the nation's most-wanted men and the alleged co-founder of militant group the Indian Mujahideen, blamed for killing hundreds in a string of attacks.
August 30, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Bhatkal, who is believed to be in his 30s, was arrested near the porous border with Nepal and is in police custody in the northern state of Bihar, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.
“He is being interrogated,” Shinde told reporters in the capital New Delhi. “I cannot disclose which intelligence agencies were involved.”
The banned Indian Mujahideen came to public attention in November 2007 following serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh state. It is accused of a number of attacks since including in Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Pune.
The group is thought to head a network of home-grown Islamic militant groups which have links to the powerful Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed organizations.
Bhatkal was named as a co-conspirator over an attack on the German Bakery restaurant in the western city of Pune in 2010 when a bomb placed in a rucksack killed 17 people including five foreigners.
Reports say Bhatkal was captured on CCTV footage in the restaurant planting the bomb shortly before the blast.
His arrest on Wednesday evening is another success for the Indian security forces following the detention earlier this month of alleged top militant Abdul Karim Tunda, who is thought to be a senior member of the LeT.
It is not known if the two arrests are linked, but Tunda, who was also arrested near the Nepal border, has been cooperating with police, according to newspaper reports.
Former home secretary R.K. Singh said security forces had been working for years to catch Bhatkal, whom he called “one of the most active terrorists in the region.”
“I think we have made great strides in the past year and a half in arresting a number of their (Indian Mujahideen) operatives,” he told the NDTV news channel.
“Catching a trained terrorist is very difficult and therefore I feel it is a great success.”