New Delhi - Indian police on Saturday claimed a major breakthrough in their investigation into serial blasts in the capital city earlier this month with the arrest of two people.
Mohammed Saif was arrested during a fierce shootout in a south Delhi area on Friday, during which a police officer and two suspected terrorists were killed, Delhi Police Deputy Commissioner Alok Kumar said.
Zeeshan, who goes by only one name, was arrested later Friday from the premises of a television news channel where he had gone to give an interview.
A senior Delhi police official said the two men, both in their early 20s, had confessed to planting the bombs in busy markets in Delhi on September 13 that left 24 dead and scores injured.
According to Saif's confession, Bashir alias Atif, who was killed in an apartment in Jamianagar area of Delhi in Friday's shootout, was in charge of manufacturing bombs and executing the blasts, IANS news agency quoted police sources as saying.
Besides Atif, a man named Sajid, was also killed in the encounter which also claimed the life of one of Delhi's most-decorated police officers, Inspector MC Sharma. A head constable, Balwinder Singh, was injured in the operation, but was recovering in hospital.
Police launched a massive manhunt for eight more people suspected to be involved in the Delhi blasts.
A police official said none of the suspects had criminal records and several of them were well-educated.
According to Saif's confession, Atif and the others were members of the Indian Mujahideen group which has claimed responsibility for the blasts in Delhi as well as those in Ahmedabad on July 26 and Jaipur on May 13, IANS reported quoting police sources.
Both Atif and Saif are from the small town of Sarai Mir in Azamgarh district of northern Uttar Pradesh state. Saif's father, Shadab Ahmed, a local politician in Azamgarh, said his son was studying computers and English in Delhi.
"They should investigate the case. My son should not be framed. If he is guilty, shoot him," Ahmed said in an interview with NDTV television channel.
Atif's father Mohammed Amin, a small-time trader, said his 22-year-old son had no link with terrorists. "This is a brutal act by Delhi police," he said demanding an independent investigation.
Several mobile phones and shoulder bags have been recovered from the apartment at Jamianagar and investigations were on, police said.
A series of blasts in major cities in India since January have left investigators grappling with what they suspect is a wide homegrown terror network.
The federal government, which has been accused of being soft on terror by opposition parties, is mulling the appointment of a minister for internal security within the Home Ministry.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said funding for police and investigative agencies would be increased. (dpa)