Israel official: India bomb attack not intended for Chabad house

| February 15, 2010

The bomb attack on a restrurant in Pune, India, not far from a Chabad Jewish center, was not directed at the Chabad house, an Israeli security official said on Monday.

Nitzan Nuriel, head of counterterrorism at Israel's National Security Agency, said that the "attack in India was not directed at Chabad house, even though Chabad houses appear on the potential lists of targets maintained by some of the groups that operate in the area."

Indian intelligence services said on Saturday that it was highly likely the bomb that tore through a cafe was meant for the local Chabad House, located several dozen meters from the site of the blast.

On Monday, Indian investigators examined security camera footage as they tried to identify who planted a deadly bomb in a bakery popular with foreigners.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, with suspicions, however, quickly falling on Islamic militant groups blamed for past attacks, including the 2008 massacre of 166 people in Mumbai, the country's financial hub.

"As of now I will not be able to confirm or rule out any group," Pune Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh said, adding that he had formed four teams to probe different aspects of the attack. "We are investigating from all angles."

Officials said one or two people posing as customers left a backpack containing a bomb in the German Bakery. In addition to the nine deaths, 60 people were wounded.

"While the restaurant did not have security cameras, police were examining video shot by cameras installed at a hotel across the street," police said.

On Monday, police showed the footage to bakery workers who had spotted the abandoned backpack before it exploded, a police officer said, speaking on condition of because he was not authorized to talk to reporters about an ongoing investigation.

The bombing was India's first major terrorist attack since the Mumbai siege and came just a day after India and Pakistan scheduled their first formal dialogue since New Delhi suspended wide-ranging peace talks in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack.

Security forces have been put on high alert at airports, train stations and markets across India, and Hindu nationalists have blamed Pakistan and demanded the talks be canceled.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said India wanted to question a terror suspect linked to Pakistani militant groups who is detained in the United States and accused of scouting out targets ahead of the Mumbai attack.

Officials said David Headley had cased the Osho Ashram, a meditation retreat near the German Bakery, and the nearby Chabad Jewish center.

Washington has been sharing intelligence with Indian agencies, but so far has not allowed them to meet with Headley.

The U.S. charges say Headley attended militant training camps in Pakistan and conspired with Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba to conduct surveillance in Mumbai before the November 2008 attack.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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