The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Sunday claimed to have foiled plans for major terrorist attacks in crowded areas of Lucknow and other cities in the state with the arrest of two operatives of the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Ghazwatul Hind.
“The ATS has arrested two active members belonging to Al qaeda-supported ‘Ansar Ghazwatul Hind’. Minhaz Ahmed, a resident of Lucknow’s Dubagga area, and Maseeruddin, a resident of Lucknow’s Madiyaon area, have been arrested. Explosive material has been recovered from them,” said UP police additional director general (ADG), law and order, Prashant Kumar.
Kumar said Ahmed and Maseeruddin, along with their accomplice Shakeel, were planning attacks in Lucknow and other parts of the state ahead of the Independence Day. “They were planning explosions at important places, memorials and crowded places, and also to use human bombs. For this, they were collecting weapons and explosives,” said Kumar. The accused were working on the instructions of Umar Halmandi, the head of the Uttar Pradesh module of Al Qaeda, he added.
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The ATS teams are carrying out searches at different locations in Lucknow as some more members of this module have escaped before the arrest of two accused, said Kumar. Late on Sunday,the ATS team arrested another suspect from the Chamanganj area in Kanpur.
A senior police official privy of the investigation, who did not want to be named, said Ahmed’s father runs a motor workshop near his house at Sita Bihar colony on Dubagga bypass, where they have been living for the past 15 years. During the nearly six-hour raid, the ATS team found several incriminating evidence, including two semi-prepared IED-based pressure cooker bombs, explosive materials and a pistol, following which the property was sealed, the official added.
The police have also detained two people from Ahmed’s house, while two others managed to escape, the official said.
Another team carried out searches at the home of Maseeruddin, who is aged about 50, in Lucknow’s Madhiau and found a large amount of explosives and a cooker set to be used as a crude bomb.
The two arrested are set to be presented in court where the police will request their custody, it added.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up at all vital installations in the state, including airports. Checking at highways and bus stations has been intensified.
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