Lucknow: A terror suspect believed to be part of a group that was planning a major terror attack in Uttar Pradesh was found dead last night after a 12-hour operation to capture him alive from a house on the outskirts of Lucknow.
Saifullah’s 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.
The operation began around 3.30 pm yesterday, when reports emerged that the police were hunting for two terror suspects 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. For hours, the police 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. Chilli bombs were used to draw him out, but nothing worked, he added.
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 danger was grave, but we managed to avert it… Had we caught him alive, we would have extracted more information, but we had no choice,” Mr Arun said.
“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.
“In the darkness, we suspected there were two terror suspects. After opening the doors of the house, the force went inside and found the suspect dead along with weapons,” senior Uttar Pradesh police officer Daljit Chaudhary told reporters last night.
The police said Saifullah was believed to be involved in the explosion on a train travelling from Ujjain to Bhopal on Tuesday morning, in which nine people were injured.
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.