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Plan to kidnap Indian cricket stars

Tendulkar. A national hero and the subject of a kidnap plot
Tendulkar. A national hero and the subject of a kidnap plot  

NEW DELHI, India -- The man who has claimed responsibility for last week's attack on the American Center in Kolkata also planned to murder a high-profile Indian nuclear scientist and kidnap two Indian cricket stars, a report says.

The report, published in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday, said that a former scientific adviser to the prime minister, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, current Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and batting legend Sachin Tendulkar were on the hit-list.

Citing internal New Delhi police documents, the Times said that Dubai-based Aftab Ansari masterminded the schemes and had plotted to assassinate Kalam four months ago.

"Hitmen had shadowed Kalam, but had to abort the plan because they couldn't acquire enough weapons in time," the report said.

Kalam was the brains behind India's nuclear tests in 1998 and is also credited with founding its long and short-range missile campaigns.

The plan for Tendulkar -- a national icon and hero in India -- was to hold him for ransom while Ansari wanted Ganguly kidnapped to be traded for the release of a Lashkar-e-Taibba militant held in a New Delhi jail.

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The Times reported that the police documents were prepared the day of the Kolkata attack during investigations into the incident.

On January 22, two gummen on a motorbike opened fire at police guards outside the American Center in Kolkata, killing four and injuring 20 other people.

Indian newspaper reports said that Ansari, alias Farjan Mallik, contacted the media to claim responsibility for the attack.

Some Indian police officials said that the two gunmen were linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taibba militant group - the same group it has blamed for the December 13 suicide raid on parliament in New Delhi, but senior government figures have discounted the link.

Authorities said that two suspects in the Kolkata attack were killed in a shootout with Indian police in the eastern state of Jharkhand on Monday.


Investigators at the scene of the attack in Kolkata
Investigators at the scene of the attack in Kolkata  

Government officials said that one of the men confessed to carrying out the attack before he died.

The Hindustan Times report said that the two men -- both Pakistani nationals -- killed on Monday were connected with Ansari.

They had been sent to a Lashkar-e-Taibba training camp as part of an overall strategy to boost cooperation between Ansari and anti-Indian militant groups, the report said.

The police document said that Ansari was currently in Pakistan and had connections with "several terrorists," forged during time he spent in jail on multiple kidnapping and murder charges, the Times reported.

New Delhi police shared the information with authorities in Kolkata in the wake of the attack, prompting security to be beefed up around Ganguly's south Kolkata home, the report said.

Investigations into the Kolkata attack are continuing with more than 50 people detained for questioning.


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