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Mon 11 Feb 2008 11:55 AM

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Bombay Stock Exchange bombing foiled

Six alleged Islamic militants suspected of planning attack held by authorities.

Police in northern India have held six alleged Islamic militants suspected of planning an attack on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), a report said Monday.

"The BSE was going to be their first target," said Amitabh Yash, a police officer with Uttar Pradesh state's anti-terror force, according to a report in the Times of India.

"These terrorists have multiple targets. In case they fail in one, they quickly move on to the next."

The men are all believed to be members of the hardline Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of nearly a dozen groups fighting against Indian rule over a part of Muslim-majority Kashmir, the report said.

The rebel outfit has been previously been linked to Al-Qaeda by India's national security advisor M.K. Narayanan.

Narayanan reiterated the connection on Sunday in Munich at an annual gathering of security experts, where he said Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Asian militant groups were part of Al-Qaeda's "elite terrorist network".

"They have forged common funding structures, common training curricula and have a common resource for obtaining explosives and weapons," said Narayanan, whose remarks coincided with the announcement of the foiled attack.

Three of the Lashkar suspects were planning to board a bus for Mumbai on Sunday. State police chief Vikram Singh said they received a tip-off leading them to the men, who were arrested Saturday.

The men were carrying automatic rifles and grenades when they were arrested, the report said, adding that at least one man had a Pakistani passport.

They have also been linked to a New Year's Day attack on a paramilitary camp in Uttar Pradesh that killed eight, and a strike at a southern science university in 2005 in which a professor died, the paper said.

India's stock market is a potent symbol of the country's booming economic growth. In 2007, it rose by a record 47.1%, the largest climb in four years.

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