US link may be reason for B'luru being target

US link may be reason for B'luru being target

Bengaluru became the target of terror within a fortnight of the Centre’s alert to states asking them to be on heightened vigil against the backdrop of US President Barack Obama’s India visit next month. Top security officials see a design in the selection of the Silicon City as the target of terrorists.

The officials believe the southern metropolis could have been selected as the target as a blast in Bengaluru would become prominent news in the United States.

Though investigators are yet to pinpoint the group that carried out the terror attack, they believe the choice of target is interesting as several American companies have operations in Bengaluru. Several US companies also outsource work to firms in this southern metropolis. US giants like Microsoft, Cisco and McKinsey have their offices in the city.

“So, if Bengaluru is the target, it could be to send a message to the United States. It is interesting that it is coming a month ahead of the US President’s visit to India for the Republic Day celebrations,” a senior Home Ministry official said. Barack Obama will be the Chief Guest of Republic Day celebrations in Delhi on January 26.

There were terror strikes in Bengaluru earlier also. Bomb explosions near BJP office on April 17, 2013, Chinnaswamy Stadium on April 17, 2010, and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore on December 28, 2005, had attracted global attention.

While the central security agencies remain silent on the perpetrators of the attack, sources said the fingers point at five suspected SIMI operatives who had escaped from a Madhya Pradesh jail last year. An initial analysis of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that exploded on Church Street indicated that the bombmakers had assembled the explosive using information from the al-Qaeda websites. Evidences found at the blast site indicate SIMI hand, sources said adding it appeared that the bombmakers used the information on the websites to manufacture the IED.

The blasts in Bijnore, Pune and Chennai were similar to Sunday’s blast near an eatery on Church Street, sources said.

Agencies also have another reason to believe that the blast was the handiwork of SIMI men as the five absconders were spotted in Hosapete recently. “We could not catch them there. They had fled from there even before we could locate them. Upon showing photos to locals, we found that they were there,” the official said. The five suspected SIMI men are ‘mobile’ and it is making it difficult for the security agencies to catch them, he said.

“Once we catch these men, we can say we are somewhat safe as we have neutralised other major terror outfits like Indian Mujahideen. Another threat is Lashkar-e-Toiba. They are still active,” he said.

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