Search

 

Cablegate: Bombings Strike Tripura; Kolkata Increases Security Ahead Of

VZCZCXRO9176
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHCI #0286/01 2801058
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061058Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2159
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 2638

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KOLKATA 000286

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL BG IN
SUBJECT: BOMBINGS STRIKE TRIPURA; KOLKATA INCREASES SECURITY AHEAD OF
DURGA PUJA

KOLKATA 00000286 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: The October 1 blasts in Tripura's capital,
Agartala, have caused an increase in security measures along the
Indo-Bangladesh border, but police officials remain unsure as to
who is responsible for the attacks. The central government has
sent investigators to Agartala in an effort to see if the blasts
are connected in any way to those that have recently taken place
in other parts of India. Kolkata security officials have
increased their security presence ahead of the Durga Puja. End
Summary.

Blasts Strike Agartala

2. (SBU) According to police contacts in Tripura, four
near-simultaneous explosions occurred in crowded shopping areas
of Agartala (approximately 100 kilometers east of Dhaka) on
October 1, between 1935 and 2010. Police confirm that while
there were no fatalities, seventy-six people were injured, two
of whom remain in critical condition. At the time of the
blasts, the markets were packed with shoppers buying foodstuffs
ahead of the Id-al-Fitr and the five-day Hindu festival of Durga
Puja which began on October 6. Press reports claimed that the
bombs were made with ammonium nitrate and included timing
devices. A police contact told Poloff that one bomb was placed
on a bicycle and left in a crowded market, two were placed in
bags in a laundry shop and a fruit shop, while the fourth was
thrown into a house. The contact was not clear who the house
belonged to or why the bomb was thrown. He confirmed that the
police defused a fifth bomb which was left at a motor stand.
Notwithstanding Tripura's reputation as a conduit for
Bangladeshi militants and previous insurgency troubles, this is
the first time that such an attack has occurred in the state.

3. (SBU) Police contacts in Agartala have also confirmed to
Poloff that a bomb containing ammonium nitrate attached to a
cell phone had been found at a pandal (a temporary structure
built for the Durga Puja) and disarmed on October 5.

No Claims of Responsibility

4. (U) Although no group claimed responsibility for the blasts,
the media initially speculated that the Bangladesh-based group,
Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), may be responsible. HuJI has
been blamed for previous attacks in Uttar Pradesh and Hyderabad
and security officials have been investigating possible links
between the group and the Indian Mujahideen (IM) -- the group
responsible for the latest bombings in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, and
Bangalore. The press later shifted to quoting police officials
stating that they did not know who was responsible.

5. (SBU) A Tripura police contact told Poloff that state
security officials were not sure who was behind the bombings and
at this time would not speculate if HuJI or the IM were
involved. The contact also opined that the explosions were
designed to create fear and panic and that Tripura has no
communal tensions for terrorists to exploit. He confirmed that
no group has been identified adding that "it could be a local
group. It is taking time [to investigate] since this is the
first time that such a blast took place in an urban area."
Another senior police official from Tripura confirmed that
police have arrested six individuals, four of whom are
Bangladeshi, in connection to the bombings. The contact also
stated that police have in the past arrested Bangladeshis with
suspected HuJI links.

6. (SBU) According to press reporting on October 3, Indian
authorities increased security along the 856 kilometer
Indo-Bangladeshi border and three members of the National
Security Guards (NSG) accompanied by a team of explosive
ordinance experts from the National Forensic Laboratory in New
Delhi, arrived in Agartala late on October 2 to conduct
investigations. A Tripura police contact confirmed that a NSG
team had arrived in Agartala to investigate the bombings and
stated that, "despite the extensive fencing work done the border
is porous."

Kolkata's Security Posture

7. (SBU) Given the recent bombings in India, there has recently
been an up tick in press reporting that Kolkata may experience a
terrorist attack during the Durga Puja. In recent days, Poloff
has observed an increase of uniformed police officers at metro
stations and popular shopping areas. However, with an estimated
four million people expected to attend the pujas on a daily
basis and organizers being responsible for procuring and
installing CCTVs in addition to providing volunteers to monitor
any suspicious persons, it is uncertain how effective these
measures will be to deter any attacks should they occur. On

KOLKATA 00000286 002.2 OF 002


October 6, the Kolkata police began sending text messages to
cell phone users reminding them to remain vigilant and report
any suspicious activity.

8. (SBU) Poloff spoke with a senior member of the Special
Branch, the intelligence wing of the Kolkata police, who said
that they had received no intelligence or tips regarding any
possible attack during the Durga Puja. The contact stated that
of the 26,000-strong Kolkata police force, 12,000-15,000 will be
on duty during the festival with the remaining police officers
on stand-by.

Comment

9. (SBU) Although it is not clear who carried out the Agartala
bombings or why, they are similar to the recent bombings in
other Indian cities. However, with no claims of responsibility,
it is uncertain whether the blasts are connected in any way to
the recent bombings similar to those experienced by New Delhi,
Bangalore, and Ahmedabad. The bombings in Tripura call into
question an often held assumption that terrorists in India do
not conduct operations in areas that serve as transit routes
from neighboring Bangladesh. The Kolkata police clearly have
not made the assumption that Kolkata and West Bengal are immune
from terrorist attacks and are taking unprecedented measures to
prevent a possible attack during the week-long Durga Puja.
PAYNE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC