CB begins probe into fleeing terror suspects

Bhubaneswar: The special task force (STF) of Odisha police on Tuesday began investigation and a search operation after four suspected terrorists mysteriously fled from a hotel in posh Master Canteen area here late last night just before a police team swooped down on it.

Though the commissionerate police is yet to get any clue about their movement and hideout, it suspects the four had plans to disrupt the Republic Day celebrations in the state capital. Incidentally, the hotel is located barely 300 metres from the place where the Republic Day celebrations were held.

Addressing the media, Director General of Police (DGP) KB Singh said, “From their movements, we suspect them to be terrorists. The vehicle in which they had come to the hotel also bore a fake registration number of New Delhi. This gives a clear hint that they had a terror plot.”

Singh said raids were on in different parts of the State and in Bhubaneswar to trace the men.

Hotel sources said the foreigners had come to stay in the hotel on Monday night but when the authorities asked them to produce their passports for identification, they could not. This raised suspicion about them.

“The four suspected terrorists had come to Bhubaneswar in a car bearing a Delhi registration number and checked into the hotel, identifying themselves as Iraqi nationals,” Police Commissioner RP Sharma said.

“However, they fled the hotel after the hotel authorities asked for their identity proof,” he added.

Sharma said the number plate of their car was also found to be fake.

“We had a tip-off about suspicious movement of some people and a possible terror attack on Republic Day in Bhubaneswar,” Sharma said adding following the incident, the security of the Chief Minister’s carcade has been beefed up.

Police are currently examining the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) camera footage to gather more information about the foreigners. A hard disk has also been seized from the hotel, informed police sources.

Meanwhile Crime Branch IG Arun Bothra reached the hotel with his team for investigation this afternoon. Officials said The STF of the CB has begun investigation into the matter and is interrogating the hotel staff for more clues.

Coming as it did in the wake of an intelligence alert that terrorist groups, including Islamic State adherents, could be preparing teens to carry out a fidayeen attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Republic Day celebrations, the incident has exposed loopholes in the security preparedness in Odisha.