8 Members Of Banned SIMI Killed Hours After Jailbreak In Bhopal

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Bhopal: Here are 10 developments in the story:

After escaping from the Bhopal Central Jail on the outskirts of the state capital, the fugitives had managed to walk around 15 km on foot before they were hunted down. They had a gun, said the police. "They were armed and there was crossfire," said senior Bhopal police officer Yogesh Choudhary.

Described by the government as hardcore criminals, the eight men escaped between midnight and 2 am on Sunday. They tied up one guard and allegedly killed a head constable, Rama Shankar, using sharpened pieces of steel plates and spoons. Then they tied together bed sheets to climb several walls around the jail.

The breakout was planned on Diwali night, when fireworks fill the skies with thick smoke and drown out most sounds. This morning, the police received information from local people that the fugitives were hiding in a village 8 km from Bhopal.

The state's Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said the prisoners were armed with spoons and plates. "They attacked the police and injured them. The police had no choice but to kill them. They were dreaded terrorists," Mr Singh told NDTV. He later clarified that he only meant the prisoners used utensils inside the prison.

The prisoners were facing trial for terror incidents, sedition and robbery. They were all housed in the same cell, said Yogesh Choudhary.

The National Investigation Agency or NIA, which handles terror cases, will investigate the jailbreak, Chief Minister Shivraj Chauhan told reporters.

Three of the terror suspects had recently been caught after they escaped in an identical jailbreak in Khandwa, around 280 km from Bhopal. They were allegedly involved in several incidents of terror and bank robbery while they were on the run.

A number of jail officials including the superintendent and three security personnel have been suspended.

The Bhopal Central Jail is among the most secure in the state and has round-the-clock electronic surveillance system.

SIMI, accused of carrying out several attacks and having links with Pakistan-based terror groups, was banned in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.


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