India Says Teen Sent Militant E-Mails

By ASHOK SHARMA
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; 2:48 PM

NEW DELHI -- Police said Wednesday that e-mails purportedly from Islamic militants claiming responsibility for the bombings of Bombay's train system were a hoax. Angry Internet users and software executives, meanwhile, pressured India's government to reopen access to Web sites blocked after the bombings.

A teenage boy sent the e-mails Saturday and Tuesday to Aaj Tak television, posing as the spokesman for a group called Lashkar-e-Qahhar, or the Army of Terror, police investigator K.P. Raghuvanshi said. The e-mails claimed responsibility for the bombings, which killed 207 people and wounded more than 800, and warned of more.

The investigator said the boy was from the southern city of Bhopal but gave no other details about him or how police determined the e-mails were fraudulent.

"It appears that a boy ... in Bhopal sent out these e-mails only for publicity," said Raghuvanshi, who is leading the investigation of the bombings.

Lashkar-e-Qahar was unknown before it claimed responsibility for twin bombings in March that killed 20 people in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi; it remains unclear whether that claim was legitimate.

With no arrests or breakthroughs in the search for those behind the July 11 blasts, suspicion has centered on Islamic militants fighting India rule in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

The government apparently blocked access to some Web sites to prevent Islamic groups from provoking a fresh outbreak of Hindu-Muslim violence.

In its efforts to shut down extremists blogs, the government ended up blocking all access to several Web sites, including the popular http://www.blogspot.com .

"The Indian Internet service providers don't have the technological wherewithal to block specific blogs on a blogging site. Consequently, they ended up blocking the entire site," said technology expert Pawan Duggal.

Gulshan Rai, director of the state-run Computer Emergency Response Team of the Information Technology Ministry, said the government order targeted four blogs hosted on blogspot.

"There's no attempt to block http://www.blogspot.com from our side," the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.

On Wednesday morning it was still difficult to access blogs on that Web site from India. Angry Indian Internet users exchanged e-mails and flooded message boards with postings in protest.

Kiran Karnick, president of The National Association of Software and Services Companies, the country's main information technology trade group, said his organization would take up the matter with the government.

Investigators, meanwhile, questioned 11 Islamic preachers who have spent the past three weeks delivering sermons in remote villages along India's porous border with Bangladesh. Authorities fear Muslim militants might be smuggling weapons and munitions over that border into India.


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