Two militants held in Andhra after ten-hour operation

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 05, 2013 13:44 hrs

Hyderabad/Chennai: Two militants hiding in a house in Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district were arrested Saturday after an at least 10-hour-long joint operation by policemen from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Andhra Pradesh Police said the militants belonging to suspected terror outfit Al-Umma surrendered after police fired smoke grenades inside the house to end the 11-hour standoff, while another escaped. They added the operation ended without police using firepower.

However, Tamil Nadu Police, which pegged the operation's duration at 10 hours, said police fired in self-defence after militants fired at them.

"Panna Ismail and Bilal Malik were secured at Puttur (Chittoor district) after a 10-hour stand-off," Tamil Nadu's Director General of Police K.Ramanujam told IANS.

He said Malik's wife and three children have also safely come out.

Andhra Pradesh's Additional Director General of Police V. S. K. Kaumudi also told reporters in Hyderabad that one woman and three children were also found staying with the militants. He said the policeman injured in the incident was shifted to Chennai.

According to Ramanujam, an inspector of police from Tamil Nadu was injured early in the morning when the raid began.

The militants had attacked the police official before they locked themselves inside the home in Puttur town, which is 30 km from the famous temple town of Tirupati and close to Tamil Nadu.

Ramanujam said police had to open fire in self defence and during the gun battle, Ismail was injured.

He was taken the local hospital for treatment, Ramanujam said, adding Malik was brought to Chennai.

The joint operation was carried out based on the intelligence input from Tamil Nadu Police, he added.

The commandos, including those from Organisation for Counter Terrorists Operations of Andhra Police, surrounded the house where the militants were holed up. Police fired teargas shells to flush out the militants who showed some resistance but finally surrendered.

Speaking to a news channel, an Andhra Pradesh Police official said police negotiated with the terrorists and asked them to surrender. When they refused, stun grenades and tear gas shells were dropped into the house from the roof.

This forced the two to come to the front portion of the house from where negotiation was made easier, the police official said.

According to locals in Puttur, the militants had taken the house on rent about a month ago.

Tamil Nadu Police had reached the town late Friday to conduct search operations based on the intelligence information. A revolver and two bombs were recovered from a house but the militants fired at the policemen from another house.

A tip off about the hideout emerged during investigations into the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party leader V. Ramesh in Salem and other Hindu leaders in Tamil Nadu.

On Friday, the Tamil Nadu Police arrested Fakruddin, who was wanted for allegedly planting a "pipe bomb" in Madurai when BJP leader L.K. Advani was touring the state.

According to Ramanujam, the two arrested militants are also involved in the murders of Hindu Munnani leader S. Vellaiyappan and Ramesh and some other cases.

"With this, three of the four accused for whom rewards of Rs.500,000 had been announced have been accounted for," he said.

Special Investigation Division will pursue investigation in the cases and file charge sheets as fast as possible, he added.

Andhra Pradesh Police said they were investigating if the militants were staying in the town to plan any attacks.

Asked about reports that they were planning to target 'Brahmotsavam' at Tirumala temple which began Saturday, the police officials in Hyderabad said they had no such information.

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