Jama Masjid firing shocks Games city

Two Taiwanese hurt; IM hand suspected

Jama Masjid firing shocks Games city

The incident was followed by a crude pressure cooker bomb blast in a car in the same area.

The Jama Masjid firing came as a shocker to the Games authorities though its Organising Committee immediately came out with a statement to allay apprehensions of a security threat, saying the firing incident would have no impact on the schedule of the Games.

The shooting place took place in one of the crowded bylanes near the Masjid around 9:30 am when rain lashed parts of the Capital. Quoting eyewitnesses, a Delhi Police spokesman said the tourists were boarding a bus when they were hit by bullets fired by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike.

“Eyewitnesses told us that the men were wearing raincoats and helmets. They fired around seven rounds before they sped away,” Delhi Police Joint Commissioner Karnail Singh told reporters.

A constable manning one of the mosque’s entry gates as well as a rickshaw puller tried to chase the attackers but they escaped through the narrow lanes in the area. The injured tourists, identified as Cesewein (27) and Cinglo (28), were admitted to Lok Nayak Jayprakash Narayan Hospital, where their condition is said to be stable. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram visited them later.

While Cesewein (27) had a providential escape as a bullet grazed his head, Cinglo (28) was hit in the abdomen. Cinglo has an entry wound, which means the bullet is still lodged in his body.  In Cesewein’s case, radiological investigations did not detect the presence of bullet in the body though there was an injury mark, LNJP Hospital Medical Superintendent Amit Banerjee said.

The police, who cordoned off the area and launched a search operation in the densely populated locality, have not said who were behind the attack. “We cannot jump to conclusions. It appears to be done to create panic. A red alert has been sounded in the National Capital Region (NCR) and we are conducting checks at various points. We are confident of nabbing the culprits soon,” Singh said.

The  car explosion occurred at around 2 pm, some 50 metres away from Gate No 3 of the Jama Masjid and near a police station where two motorcycle-borne gunmen had earlier in the day fired at a visiting five-member Taiwanese media crew, injuring two of them.
“The car went up in flames due to a crudely-circuited pressure cooker bomb,” a senior police official said.

Though initially the police denied any foul play and suggested that the fire erupted due to a cylinder blast, investigators now suspect the involvement of a “group of disgruntled youth or local criminals” who wanted to create a scare in the area.
Asked whether terrorist groups like Indian Mujahideen could be behind the incident, Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said the pressure cooker bomb was “poorly circuited and crudely assembled.”

“It appears to be a local gang or disgruntled youths,” he said. The car has been taken to the Jama Masjid Police Station.

The police, however, ruled out any hand of the banned Indian Mujahideen group in the incident though the outfit, while not claiming a hand in the firing, had issued a statement during the day threatening to disrupt the Games.

In an email to BBC’s Hindi service, it said: “We know that preparations for the Games are at its peak. Beware, we, too, are preparing in full swing for a great surprise. The participants will be solely responsible for the outcome as our bands of Mujahideen love death more than you love life.”

The firing sent shock waves among the CWG authorities, who suddenly issued a statement to prevent panic.  The Games OC said the shooting would have no impact on the Games. “The Ministry of Home Affairs and Delhi Police have made arrangements to provide the athletes and officials a safe environment.
The participating nations are also satisfied with the preparations made by the police and the Home Ministry’s International Security Liaison Group,” committee spokesman Lalit Bhanot said in the statement.

Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, condemned the firing and said it was aimed at scaring away foreigners from Delhi in the event of the Games.
Words of praise were heaped on rickshaw puller Salim who chased  the attackers. “I saw the motorcyclists firing at the foreigners. I was ferrying passengers. I got down from the rickshaw and threw a brick at them and even tried to chase them. But they fled,” he later told reporters.

 Following the incident, security has been up at various public places, including markets and metro stations. The Home Ministry has sought a report from the Delhi Police on the incident, ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled high-level meeting on security in the run-up to the Games, when over a lakh security personnel are to be deployed in the Capital.
DH News Service

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