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Firing near Jama Masjid in Delhi, 2 tourists hurt

Last updated on: September 19, 2010 14:14 IST

Raising security concerns ahead of the Commonwealth Games, two men on a motorbike fired several rounds on a tourist vehicle near the historic Jama Masjid in the walled city, injuring two Taiwanese nationals.

A red alert has been sounded across New Delhi after the incident in which the two bikers are said to have fired 7-8 rounds on the stationary vehicle adjacent to gate number three of the mosque and 100 metres away from the house of Shahi Imam Ahmed Bukhari at around 11.30 am.

The Delhi Police say that it is too early to conclude that it was an act of terror.

The two tourists aged between 26 and 28 have been admitted to the Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital. They are said to be out of danger.

One of them was injured when a bullet grazed his head while another was hit in the abdomen and is being operated, LNJP Hospital Medical Superintendent Amit Banerjee said.

According to eyewitnesses, two men on a motorcycle wearing raincoats fired indiscriminately at the bus.

The beat police made a futile chase to nab the assailants.

The police, however, managed to recover the guns that the duo dropped while fleeing the spot.

Delhi Police Joint Commissioner Karnail Singh told media persons that the four cartridges recovered from the spot showed that the weapon used could be .38 calibre revolver.

But the rounds of fire recovered were also of 9 mm, which can be used in pistol or carbine, he said refusing to hazard a guess on the motive of the attackers. "We are looking into all angles and we cannot jump to conclusions," he said.

Although Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has said that it was too early to presume that the attackers are terrorists, security agencies are looking at the timing of the attack.

The incident has occurred two weeks before the Commonwealth Games. The event is very high on the radar of terrorist organisations.

Interestingly, specific intelligence pertaining to an attack during the Games also speaks of an attack on tourists and athletes' vehicles on the lines of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan.

Sources in the Delhi Police said that it was too early to assess the reason behind the attack and say that the primary concern at the moment is to nab the assailants.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau, however, add that the motive was to create panic ahead of the Games and that some local module could be behind it.

Looking at the incident, they add, it is not a routine criminal act since there is no specific motive to target one person during the attack.

A large crowd gathered in the area while tourists who were there to visit the mosque left soon after the incident. Police said phone calls in the area are being scanned and armed personnel have been deployed in the locality.

Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari called it a "terrorist" incident aimed at creating panic, preventing foreign visitors from coming to the city and making the Games a "failure".

"This has been done to spread panic in India so that people from outside do not come to Delhi...a conspiracy to make the Commonwealth Games a failure," he told reporters.

Asked if he feels terrorists were behind this, he said, "Killing innocent people, firing several rounds...doing all these things...this is terrorism and the authorities will have to find out who is responsible."

He said "outside forces" do not want peace and tranquillity in the country and the government will have to ensure security.

Additional Inputs: PTI

Vicky Nanjappa