A 29-year-old man was killed in a car explosion in front of a temple in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, on Sunday.
While the police said the blast was possibly triggered by an LPG cylinder in the vehicle, a search at the residence of the deceased, identified as Jameesha Mubin, led to detection of a huge quantum of explosive materials.
The police said Mubin, a resident of Ukkadam, was killed in the explosion in front of Kottai Easwaran Kovil near Town Hall in one of the busiest commercial areas in the western city around 4 a.m.
An LPG cylinder he carried in a hatchback car exploded while another one was found unexploded at the blast site.
Director General of Police C. Sylendra Babu, who camped in Coimbatore, told journalists on Sunday evening that the explosion happened when the accused was carrying the two cylinders and other items including nails and marbles. He, however, refused to comment whether it was a case of a planned attack on the temple which went awry.
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The DGP, however, said the police found a cache of explosive materials including potassium nitrate, aluminium powder, sulfur and charcoal from the residence of Mubin, an engineering graduate.
“Going by the materials seized from his house, this [materials in the car] could have been meant for a possible plan [for attack] in the future”, he said.
According to Mr. Babu, Mubin had to cross a police checkpost in the area, after the temple. The explosion could have happened when he tried to get away, said the police chief.
Mr. Babu, who visited the blast site on Sunday noon, said that Mubin did not have involvement in any case in Coimbatore unlike some of his friends. His contacts, social media activities, among others, are being examined.
Police sources claimed that the National Investigation Agency had questioned Mubin once in 2019.
Six special teams worked together from morning and traced the identity of Mubin (whose body was charred), the ownership of the hatchback car he used and the source of LPG cylinders.
People, who had access to the site, said nails and marbles were found scattered around the gutted car.
Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) P. Thamaraikannan, who visited the site in the morning, coordinated the investigation with Coimbatore City Police Commissioner V. Balakrishnan, West Zone Inspector General of Police R. Sudhakar and other senior officers.
Soon after the explosion, the Fire and Rescue Services rushed to the spot and put out the flames after being alerted by a resident. The charred body of Mubin recovered from the site was shifted to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital.
An official from the Fire and Rescue Services said that the exploded LPG cylinder had a fissure of about four inches. The unexploded one was a 35 kg commercial cylinder. The charred body was found near the car which completely went up in flames, the official said.
Forensic teams looked for evidence among the mangled remains of the car. The temple premises were cleaned after the police shifted the remains of the car in the evening.
Following the blast, the police barricaded Kottai Easwaran Kovil Street, and over 100 policemen were deployed. Special forces have been called in from other districts.
Kottai Easwaran Kovil Street, which has over 100 shops, remained closed till 7 p.m. Shopkeepers said they expected good sales on the eve of Deepavali, and the explosion led to a huge loss in business for them.