Karnataka: Mangaluru blast case likely to be handed over to NIA

Karnataka Police declaring that the blast, which occurred on November 19 evening near a police station, is not accidental but an act of terror.
A cooker fitted with detonator, wires and batteries found during the investigation after an explosion in an auto-rickshaw in Mangalore (R)
A cooker fitted with detonator, wires and batteries found during the investigation after an explosion in an auto-rickshaw in Mangalore (R)PTI

NEW DELHI: The low-intensity blast that occurred in an autorickshaw in Karnataka's Mangaluru city is likely to be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), sources said on Monday.

With Karnataka Police declaring that the blast, which occurred on November 19 evening near a police station, is not accidental but an act of terror, the case would be handover to the NIA anytime.

Sources in the agencies and the Central government told ANI that "discussion is going on high level, and there is a possibility that the case may be handed over to the NIA by late this evening or any day in this week".

The blast occurred in an autorickshaw in Karnataka's Mangaluru city on November 19 injuring its driver and a passenger. The autorickshaw caught fire after the blast, and the driver and a passenger sustained burn injuries. The police mentioned that the explosion was not just an accident but an "act of terror with the intention to cause serious damage".

Auto driver Purushotham, and the prime accused, identified as 24-year-old Mohammed Shariq, were on fire when shopkeepers and local residents rushed to their rescue soon after the blast.

On November 20, Karnataka Police identified the bomber as Karnataka's Thirthahalli-based Mohammed Shariq, a terror accused charged with links to the Islamic State (IS), who is on the run since September 2022. The bomber had suffered nearly 40 per cent burns in the explosion.

A day after the explosion in Mangaluru, Karnataka Director General of Police Praveen Sood on said the 'mysterious blast' was an act of terror and a "deep probe" into the incident is underway.

"It's confirmed now. The blast is not accidental but an act of terror with the intention to cause serious damage. Karnataka State Police is probing deep into it along with central agencies," Sood tweeted.

A bomb disposal squad and a dog squad were rushed to the blast site and a team of NIA officers also visited the blast site.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said the suspect had terror links as he had travelled to various places, including Coimbatore in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

"Prima facie, this is a terror act. The places he had travelled to such as Coimbatore or any other places clearly point to his terror link," CM Bommai had said.

The Karnataka CM had also said the NIA and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials have also joined the state police in investigating the matter.

Going by the information available, it appeared that Shariq was trained to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that could be triggered by timer devices. A burnt pressure cooker and batteries were found at the scene of the blast.

The Karnataka DGP had said that investigators would look into the similarities between the nature of explosives used in the Mangaluru blast and in the Coimbatore car explosion which took place on October 23, in which the main suspect Mubin was killed.

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