ISIS debuts in India with train blast in Ujjain; suspect killed in encounter

08 March 2017

A suspected Islamic State operative was killed in the wee hours of Wednesday after an 11-hour-long anti-terror operation conducted by the Uttar Pradesh Police's Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) commandos in Lucknow in connection with a bomb blast inside the Ujjain-Bhopal train in Madhya Pradesh.

The Ujjain train blast, which led to the encounter in Lucknow's Thakurganj area, probably marks the first attack by the dreaded terror outfit Islamic State in India, involving local recruits radicalised from within the country, police sources said.

Mohammed Saifullaa, the terror suspect who was holed up in a house in Haji colony of Thakurganj area, was killed in a 12-hour operation after efforts to persuade the him to surrender proved futile.

His body was found when the Anti-Terror Squad blew up a wall to enter the house in Thakurganj around 3 am last night, hours before the final round of voting for the Uttar Pradesh election on Wednesday.

The police said he was an active member of the terror group ISIS and was believed to be involved in a train blast in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh yesterday. The bomb used in the blast was allegedly assembled in the house and an ISIS flag was also found there.

ATS started the operation against the two terror suspects around 3.30 pm yesterday after reports emerged that the two were hiding in the house. At 6 pm, the police said it would be over in a few hours, but the stand-off stretched into dawn.

The police, meanwhile, negotiated with the suspect to get him to surrender and even got him to speak to his brother, senior Anti-Terror Squad officer Aseem Arun said today.

Eight pistols, 650 rounds of ammunition, 50 fired rounds, explosives, gold, cash, passports, SIM cards and a train time table were found along with the body.

The police said they could have extracted some information on the ISIS activities in the country had the terror suspect been caught alive.

"The slain terror suspect belongs to the Khurasan module of the ISIS and was an active member. Whether he has been indoctrinated or not is a matter of investigation," the officer told reporters.

The police had initially suspected that two terrorists were hiding inside the house. The forces had drilled a hole in the roof and spotted two weapons, from which they concluded there were two men.

They found one body on the blood-splattered floor. There were two gaping holes in the wall, where the police had drilled holes to shoot.

CCTV footage from near the train explosion site had helped the police to identify the suspects; two were arrested from Kanpur and one from Etawah in Uttar Pradesh. Three more were arrested in Madhya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh's DIG has confirmed that the blast was a terror attack, and five people have already been arrested in the matter in the state.

Both, the Kanpur suspect and the one involved in the Lucknow operation, are suspected to have links to the blast.

The operation and the blast both come a day before the seventh phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh.

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