Bomb suspects killed in shootout

The suspected mastermind of last month's car bombings in Bombay, which killed more than 50 people, was shot dead yesterday, police said.

Police Commissioner Ranjit Sharma said the suspect, known as Naseer, and another man, were killed in a gunfight with policein central Bombay.

"Naseer was the brain behind the August 25 bombings," Mr Sharma said.

The blasts at a popular tourist spot and a crowded market claimed 52 lives and wounded more than 150 people.

Police said the explosions were in retaliation for last year's religious riots in western India, which killed almost 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.

Security in Bombay and the capital, Delhi, has been tightened to prevent further attacks.

Mr Sharma claimed Naseer founded a group called Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force, blamed for several recent blasts in Bombay.

Naseer and his alleged aide were travelling in a car laden with explosives and guns when police intercepted it, Mr Sharma said. The men tried to flee, prompting the gunfight, he said. The police chief added that Naseer was identified through photographs and sketches based on information provided by four suspects arrested earlier.

They said Naseer had provided them with the explosives used in the car bombings. During interrogation, they had also revealed that Naseer took them to the places where the bombs were to be planted, Mr Sharma said. The police claim could not be independently verified.

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