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Terror suspect killed near Lucknow was part of IS group planning 'major attack': Authorities

Authorities said there were a total of nine men in the group -- all of them from Lucknow and Kanpur. Photograph: (ANI)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 08, 2017, 07.40 AM (IST)

Authorities said the terror suspect Saifullah killed near Lucknow early Wednesday morning was part of an Islamic State module that was planning a "major attack" in India this month. 

They added that Saifullah had been part of the same group that had carried out the explosion on the Bhopal-Ujjain train on Tuesday in which at least nine people had been injured. That, the authorities said, had been a practice run. 

A National Investigative Agency (NIA) team has arrived in the city to take the probe forward. It will look into the items recovered from Saifullah's hideout -- Haji colony in Thakurganj area -- where he was killed by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad in an 11-hour-long gunfight.

Saifulla's father Sartaj has refused to accept the body of an "anti-national", ANI reported.

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The authorities had tracked Saifullah down to a house in Thakurganj on the outskirts of Lucknow as early as 3.30 pm yesterday.

It would all be over soon, they said, but the operation to flush him out took as much as 12 hours.

Police even dialled Saifullah's brother on a cellphone, pushing the phone under the door to Saifullah. But he refused to come out, with reports saying he said he preferred martyrdom.

Police had already drilled a hole into the roof of the house to try and spy on Saifullah. Through it they spied two weapons, leading them to believe there might be two men inside the house but that finally proved to be incorrect. There was only Saifullah. 

They anti-terror squad finally had to punch holes into the walls of the house -- through which they shot at Saifullah. They finally got into the house at close to 4 in the morning.

Inside, they found blood-splattered walls, an Islamic State flag, a train timetable, at least eight pistols, used and live ammunition -- and Saifullah dead on the ground.  

There were a total of nine men in the module, the authorities said, all of them from Lucknow and Kanpur. 

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Earlier

"After opening the doors of the house (where the terrorist was holed up), the force went inside and found the suspect dead along with weapons," Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Daljit Chaudhary said.

"At one point of time it appeared that more than one person was holed up inside the house," he said.

Chaudhary said that the operation "stands closed now. Rest of the legal formalities will subsequently take place." The IG ATS Aseem Arun confirmed that the slain terror suspect was an active member of the ISIS.

"The slain terror suspect belongs to the Khurasan module of the ISIS and was an active member. But, whether he has been indoctrinated or not is a matter of investigation," Arun said.

Anti-terror operations were carried out to get hold of terrorists, suspected to be linked with the Bhopal-Ujjain train blast near Jabdi station in Shajapur district of Madhya Pradesh yesterday in which at least 10 people were injured, three of them seriously.

Speaking to the media after the anti-terror operation was over, Arun said, "Efforts were made to catch the suspected terrorist (identified as Saifullah) alive, but unfortunately this did not materialise. We fired tear gas shells and chilli bombs, so that he comes out. But, he did not come out."

The ATS commandos then stormed inside the house (after issuing a warning to the terrorist), Arun said, adding "The suspected terrorist then fired at the ATS commandos, which was then appropriately retaliated by the ATS commandos. After this, two rooms were thoroughly searched and checked, and the person identified as Saifullah was found dead." "One pistol, revolver, knife and ammunition have been recovered," he said.

The commandos also saw a wire wrapped around the stomach of the terror suspect, Arun said.

"We suspect that it could possibly be an explosive. Hence, the Bomb Disposal Squad has been called to clear the room first. After this the investigations would commence," he said.

On earlier reports of two terrorists being holed up in the house, the IG ATS, said, "Since we were using the tube cameras to ascertain the details (of the suspected terrorists), the image was not very clear, and it appeared that there may be two terrorists holed up in the house. But, when the search and clear operations were carried out, only one dead body was found."

Asked to comment on the possible terror linkage of the slain terrorist, Arun said that this would be answered during the course of investigation. 

Meanwhile, The Uttar Pradesh police, in a press release today, had said three persons were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police in Piparia in connection with the Bhopal-Ujjain train blasts.

Two of the arrested were from Kanpur, while one is form Aligharh.

The arrested have been identified as Danish Akhtar alias Zafar from Kanpur, Aatish Muzaffar alias Al-Qasim, from Kanpur, and Syed Meer Hussain alias Hamza from Aligarh.

The press release added that the Madhya Pradesh police had provided the information that one of the terrorists holed up in in the house on the outskirts of Lucknow was Mohammed Saifullah alias Ali, a resident of Kanpur.

“As per the information received from the Madhya Pradesh Police, one of the terrorists holed up in a house on the outskirts of Lucknow (on Lucknow-Hardoi Road under Kakori police station) has been identified as ,” said the press release.

Two of the suspected terrorists arrested by the UP Police from Kanpur are Mohammed Faisal Khan and Mohammed Imran alias Bhaai Jaan while the suspected terrorist who has been arrested from Etawah is Fakr-e-Alam alias Rishu.

Imran and Faisal's father has denied the accusations against his sons as 'false.'

 

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(WION with inputs from ANI)

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