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January 22, 2002
1910 IST

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USIS attack: Three groups
claim responsibility

Three groups, at least two of them connected with one another, have claimed responsibility for the Tuesday morning attack on the United States Information Center in Kolkata, which left four police personnel dead and several others injured.

Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami -- based in Bangladesh and having links with Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed - was the first to take responsibility for the attack.

Harkat was followed by a little known group, Asif Rezak Commando, saying its men carried out the attack to avenge the killing of their leader -- Asif Rezak Khan -- in a fake encounter in Rajkot, Gujarat, two months ago.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said an unidentified man called a local newspaper to claim responsibility for the attack. The chief minister, however, refused to divulge details of the call.

Asif Rezak Khan, alias Rajan, had been arrested in Gujarat in connection with the much-publicised abduction of shoe baron, Parthapratim Roy Burman, and was killed in an encounter when he tried to flee from police custody on December 7.

The third group to take responsibility for the USIS attack is led by Dubai-based mafia don Farhan alias Aftab Malik.

Responding to questions, a Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said initial reports gathered by the Ministry of Home Affairs indicate that Farhan, who is based in Dubai, claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to a local newspaper.

Official sources said Farhan is believed to be in regular "touch with Pakistani agencies" and groups such as Harkat-ul Jehad-e-Islami.

PTI

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(c) Copyright 2001 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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