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India arrests Yasin Bhatkal, Indian Mujahideen terrorism suspect

By Jethro Mullen and Neha Sharma, CNN
updated 4:57 AM EDT, Thu August 29, 2013
Mumbai's anti-terrorism police chief, Rakesh Maria holds photographs of Yashin Bhatkal in Mumbai on January 23, 2012.
Mumbai's anti-terrorism police chief, Rakesh Maria holds photographs of Yashin Bhatkal in Mumbai on January 23, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Yasin Bhatkal is arrested near the border with Nepal, authorities say
  • He is wanted in relation to a series of deadly bombings in India
  • Bhatkal is believed to be a co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen, a banned militant group
  • The United States says the group's bomb attacks have killed hundreds of civilians

New Delhi (CNN) -- Indian intelligence agencies have arrested Yasin Bhatkal, one of the country's most wanted terrorism suspects, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said Thursday.

Bhatkal is believed to be a co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen, a militant group banned in India and listed by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization.

Intelligence officials arrested him Wednesday in the eastern state of Bihar, near India's border with Nepal, Shinde said.

"He is currently under Bihar Police's custody and is being interrogated," he said.

The U.S. State Department said in 2011 that the Indian Mujahideen has "significant links to Pakistan" and is responsible for "dozens of bomb attacks throughout India since 2005" that have caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

Bhatkal is wanted in relation to multiple bombings in Mumbai in July 2011 that killed 27 people in three busy marketplaces. Indian authorities suspect him of planning those attacks.

He is accused of masterminding several other bombings, including one that hit a bakery in the city of Pune in 2010, killing 17 people.

His group has been linked to a series of deadly outbreaks of violence in India.

The U.S. State Department says the Indian Mujahideen played a "facilitative role" in the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, when coordinated attacks on hotels, hospitals, and railway stations left more than 160 people dead.

The group is also responsible for 16 synchronized bombings in Ahmedabad in 2008 that left 38 people dead, according to the State Department.

The Indian Mujahideen's "stated goal is to carry out terrorist actions against non-Muslims in furtherance of its ultimate objective -- an Islamic Caliphate across South Asia," the State Department says.

Journalist Neha Sharma reported from New Delhi, and CNN's Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong.

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