Bengaluru:

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday arrested two key accused in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast in Bengaluru last month. Mussavir Hussain Shazeb and Abdul Matheen Taha were arrested from Kanthi in Bengal’s East Midnapore district this morning, the agency said.

While Shazeb planted the explosive device inside a bag at the cafe, Taha was responsible for planning the attack and their subsequent disappearance, the anti-terror agency said. Another key conspirator, Muzammil Shareef, who extended logistical support to the main accused, was arrested on March 26.

On Friday morning, a NIA team traced the two men to Kolkata where they were living under fake names. In a joint operation, central intelligence agencies and police of West Bengal, Telengana, Karnataka, and Kerala police detained the accused.

The agency had identified Shazeb and Taha, both residents of Thirthahalli in Shivamogga district of Karnataka, as prime accused last week and conducted searches at 18 locations in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh to arrest them.

Ten customers and hotel staff members were injured in the blast at popular Bengaluru cafe on March 1.

After the blast, the agency released several photos and videos of the key accused seen on CCTV cameras across Bengaluru. In the clips, the accused, with his face covered with a mask, can be seen boarding a bus almost an hour after the blast occurred at the cafe.

The agency had declared a reward of ₹10 lakh on information leading to the arrest of each of the key accused. It had also questioned their acquaintances, including college and school friends.

The Rameshwaram Cafe, which suffered extensive damage after the IED blast, reopened eight days later with enhanced security measures including metal detectors.

“We have strengthened our security team and are also trying to set up a separate panel involving ex-servicemen who could train our security guards at all our branches,” the cafe’s co-founder Raghavendra Rao had said.


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