Suspected bomber’s last known location Ballari; NIA questions accused in alleged Ballari Islamic State module unearthed in December 2023

March 08, 2024 09:45 pm | Updated 09:59 pm IST - Bengaluru

The suspect of The Rameshwaram Cafe blast in Bengaluru.

The suspect of The Rameshwaram Cafe blast in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Following evidence that the suspected bomber at The Rameshwaram Cafe on March 1 went to Ballari later, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been questioning four accused in the Islamic State (IS) inspired terror module the agency unearthed in Ballari in December 2023. 

NIA has taken custody of four accused in the Ballari IS module case, namely, Mohammed Minaz alias Sulaiman, 26, a resident of Ballari, the alleged leader of the module, Sayad Sameer, 19, also from Ballari, Shyan Rahaman, 26, from Delhi and Anas Iqbal Shaikh, 23, from Mumbai. NIA took their custody on March 6 and their custody will end on March 9. 

Earlier, NIA sleuths, working on leads that the detonator and timer used in the IEDs at the restaurant in Bengaluru and in the cooker bomb in Mangaluru in 2022, had also questioned accused Mohammed Shariq, Maaz Muneer and others related to the Shivamogga module that allegedly carried out the cooker blast. 

However, given that the last known location of the suspected bomber has now turned out to be Ballari, NIA sleuths are now focusing on the Ballari module, sources said. While there are suspicions that he may have moved to Bhatkal from there, sleuths are unable to pin him down in CCTV footage at Bhatkal, unlike in Ballari, sources said. 

Raids in December

In December, the NIA had raided 19 locations across five states and arrested 8 operatives including the alleged module’s leader Mohammed Minaz alias Sulaiman, a resident of Ballari. The NIA in a statement released then called them “IS operatives”. NIA claimed to have recovered explosive raw materials, such as sulphur, potassium nitrate, charcoal, gunpowder, sugar and ethanol. “The accused had planned to use the explosive raw materials for fabrication of IEDs, which were to be used for carrying out terror acts,” it had said. The module had its tentacles spread to Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra; Jamshedpur and Bokaro in Jharkhand; and Delhi. 

“The Ballari module has a wider network across five states and were in advanced stages of preparation to carry out terror attacks and had stored explosives as well, when busted in 2023. Moreover, this module was also active in recruiting college students and youths,” a senior official said. 

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