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3 detained as India scrambles for leads on bombing that killed 12 outside New Delhi court
NEW DELHI (AP) ' Indian authorities detained three men for questioning Thursday as they scrambled for leads into a powerful briefcase bomb that tore through the crowds outside a New Delhi courthouse, killing 12.
Investigators were looking into an email sent to several TV news channels hours after Wednesday's blast, allegedly by a Pakistan-linked Muslim extremist group. They were trying to determine the authenticity of the claim.
The email demanded that a Kashmiri man convicted in a 2001 attack on India's Parliament have his death sentence commuted. It also threatened to target other courts.
Police in Indian Kashmir said investigators had traced the email to an internet cafe in the disputed Himalayan region's Kishtwar area and had detained the owner and two other residents for questioning.
Authorities also were searching various locations in Kishtwar but police would not provide more details.
The bomb exploded at about 10:14 a.m. near a line of more than 100 people waiting at a reception counter for passes to enter the courthouse to have their cases heard.
The bomb's impact left a deep crater on the road and shook the building, creating panic and sending lawyers and judges running outside. The blast killed 12 people and wounded 80 others.
The investigation was immediately handed over to the National Investigation Agency, created after the 2008 Mumbai siege to investigate and prevent terror attacks.
Police said they were combing the city for possible suspects and all roads out of the city were under surveillance.
Police also released two sketches Wednesday they said were based on descriptions by witnesses who said they saw someone waiting outside the building with a briefcase.
The court bombing was the first major attack in India since serial blasts in Mumbai killed 26 people on July 13. Suspicion then fell on the shadowy terrorist group Indian Mujahedeen, though no arrests have been made.
The bomb struck the High Court, an appeals panel below India's Supreme Court, even though the capital is on high alert because Parliament is in session. A small explosion on May 25 in a parking lot at the same court building appeared to have been a failed car bomb.
After the Mumbai attacks, the government expanded police recruiting and training, set up the NIA and established commando bases across the country so forces could react swiftly.
The attack was reminiscent of the string of deadly bombings that rocked the country in 2008, including a series of coordinated bomb blasts in New Delhi on Sept. 13 that killed 21 people. Many of those attacks were blamed on militant groups composed of disaffected Muslims furious at perceived injustices at the hands of India's Hindu majority.
That attacks abated after the November 2008 siege of Mumbai, when 10 Pakistan-based militants terrorized India's commercial capital for 60 hours, killing 166 people.
However, the recent attacks have renewed worries about a return of the violence.