South Asia

Kashmir teenagers arrested over Delhi bomb email

A sniffer dog at the blast site outside the high court in Delhi
Image caption The bomb was said to have been placed in a briefcase outside the court

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have arrested two schoolboys in connection with last week's bomb attack at the high court in Delhi.

Shariq Ahmed and Abid Hussain were held over their alleged role in sending an email to the media claiming that a radical group had planted the bomb.

Both were charged with criminal conspiracy.

However, relatives of the boys told the BBC that they are innocent and have done nothing wrong.

Rafiq Ahmed Butt, father of Shariq Ahmed, insisted the boys were innocent and said they had been made scapegoats.

"We have apprehensions that since the boys are minor, the police may force them to confess under pressure," Shariq Ahmed's uncle, Farooq Butt, told the BBC.

He added that background checks have found nothing suspicious and that the boys' attendance at school was creditable

'India-based group'

The death toll in the bombing has risen to 14. Seventy-six others were injured.

The 7 September blast was the second to target the building in five months.

India's Home Minister P Chidambaram has said it is likely that the attack was carried out by a group based in India.

The email the boys are suspected of having sent from a cyber cafe claimed that the radical group Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (Huji) had planted the bomb.

They were among several people detained by police for questioning over the last week, including the cyber cafe owner.

Reports say the boys attend a secondary school in Kishtwar, and neither had a criminal or militancy-related record.

The authorities say the arrests have moved the investigation forward but no police officer was available to give details.

Security doubts

On Wednesday night, federal home secretary RK Singh said there were some clues and "some people have been arrested".

"But we do not want to disclose whatever progress we have made as it will hamper the investigation," he said.

The US state department says that Huji is a terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda. Huji has been accused of carrying out attacks in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Last week, Mr Chidambaram told the BBC that even though Huji had reportedly claimed responsibility for the blast, the group had not been active in India for a while.

Earlier this week, police in the state of Gujarat arrested a man for sending a fake email which had claimed the bomb attack was the work of the Indian Mujahideen.

On Thursday the United States put the Indian Mujahideen on its list of foreign terrorist organisations. The state department said the group was responsible for dozens of bomb attacks throughout India in the last six years.

These include last year's bombing of a German bakery in Pune in which 16 people died and a series of city attacks in 2008. The news is likely to be welcomed in India where critics accuse the US of failing to appreciate India's own losses.

Correspondents say last week's attack renewed doubts about India's ability to protect even its most important institutions, despite a security overhaul that followed devastating attacks by gunmen in Mumbai (Bombay) in 2008.

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