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Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Indian officer held over blasts

Site of the Malegaon blast
Police said the attacks were the work of 'terrorists'

Police in India have arrested an army officer in connection with two bombings in Maharashtra state which killed at least eight people in September.

The blasts happened in the mainly Muslim towns of Malegaon and Modasa.

Police say Prasad Shrikant Purohit is accused of providing logistical support for Hindu militants to make bombs.

Correspondents say it may be the first time a serving Indian army officer has been arrested and accused of having links to Hindu militants.

At least nine other people - including a retired army major, Ramesh Upadhyay - have already been detained in the case.

Officers from the anti-terrorism squad in the western city of Mumbai (Bombay) questioned Lt-Col Purohit for several days before finally arresting him.

"He was arrested this morning and is being produced in court," Ajay Misar, a government lawyer acting in the case, told Reuters news agency.

Lt-Col Purohit appeared in court later on Wednesday and was remanded in custody.

The Press Trust of India reported that he was detained last week at the Army Education Corps Training College in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

There was no immediate response from the army.

Violent protests

At least five people were killed in the blast near a mosque in Malegaon, about 260km (160 miles) from Mumbai. A sixth died later of injuries sustained in the blast.

More than 100 people, including policemen, were also injured.

Two people were killed in the explosion in Modasa, a town in the neighbouring state of Gujarat.

India has been hit by a number of explosions in recent weeks, many of them blamed on local Muslim militants.

Two years ago, at least 37 people were killed and more than 125 others injured in bombings at a Muslim graveyard in Malegaon.

The government said at the time of the most recent blasts that its main concern was to stop religious violence from flaring up again.

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