Indian authorities have arrested several suspected militants with possible ties to a Pakistan-based al-Qaeda cell. The men were allegedly preparing to carry out multiple attacks.
Indian anti-terrorism investigators said they arrested nine suspected al-Qaeda militants on Saturday who were allegedly planning attacks in several locations, including India's capital, New Delhi.
Three of the militants were arrested following early morning raids in Ernakulum, in the southern state of Kerala, and three were arrested in Murshidabad, in the eastern state of West Bengal, India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in a statement.
"The group was planning to undertake terrorist attacks at vital installations in India with an aim to kill innocent people," the statement said, adding that the raids came after the NIA learned of an "inter-state" al-Qaeda cell.
The statement did not share details of how the cell was uncovered.
Investigators also found "incriminating material," including bomb-making instructions, jihadist literature, sharp weapons and locally produced firearms.
The men will be held in police custody in Kerala and West Bengal pending further investigation.
Ties with Pakistan-based militants
The NIA claims that the nine suspected militants have ties to a "Pakistan-sponsored" module of al-Qaeda. The men had been "radicalized" by "al-Qaeda terrorists" on social media, the NIA said.
India has often accused Pakistan of supporting Islamist militant groups seeking to carry out attacks. Islamabad frequently denies these allegations.
Tensions in India's Muslim majority-region of Kashmir have seen Dehli increase offensives against suspected militant groups. Indian forces killed the leader of an al Qaeda-affiliated militant group in Kashmir last year.
In 2008, agroup of Islamist militants attacked multiple targets in Mumbai, killing at least 160 people.
wmr/aw (dpa, Reuters)