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Two Taiwanese shot at Jama Masjid, man detained

Sunday, September 19, 2010 10:58:57 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Two Taiwanese tourists were wounded when two gunmen on a motorcycle opened random fire near the Jama Masjid here Sunday morning, creating a scare ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

Ko Chang and Ku Ze Wei, both in their 20s, were shot in the head and stomach respectively when the gunmen fired at a bus from which a group of tourists was alighting, police and witnesses said.

The attack, just after 11 a.m., took place near one of the main gates of the mammoth, 16th century red sandstone mosque in Old Delhi.

At least 10 rounds were fired, the incident lasting nearly a minute, before a young man picked up a stone in a bid to trip the gunmen who sped away through the lanes of Jama Masjid area.

A policeman also gave chase on foot but in vain, a stunned Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari told reporters.

It was the man riding pillion on the bike opened fire, police said.

Rickshaw puller Salim said: "I was at a distance when I saw two fair-skinned and tall men on a bike. They reached the bus and started shooting indiscriminately as the tourists were getting off the bus."

Doctors at the LNJP hospital in the city centre extracted a bullet from Chang's abdomen and shifted him to the Intensive Care Unit. Home Minister P. Chidambaram later visited the wounded Taiwanese.

The firing sparked panic in the thickly populated area. In no time, authorities issued a high security alert in both New Delhi and Mumbai, two cities that have suffered numerous terror attacks in the past.

In a separate incident that mystified the police, a parked Maruti car in the vicinity of Jama Masjid suddenly caught fire. A police official blamed it on short-circuit. Others said they were probing all angles.

Fire engines quickly put out the leaping flames. No one was injured in the car incident.

"We cannot say anything definitively now," a Delhi Police officer said, when journalists wanted to know if the shooting was related to the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games.

Police detained a young man for the attack on the Taiwanese, saying a black Hero Honda Passion motorcycle used in the crime belonged to him. The man is said to live in Vasant Kunj in south Delhi.

The attack came despite a high level of security here in the run up to the Commonwealth Games that will draw athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories.

Shahi Imam Bukhari called it a terror attack which he said was aimed at keeping away foreigners from the Indian capital ahead of the Games.

"It was indiscriminate firing," said the Imam, whose family -- originally from Central Asia -- has presided over Jama Masjid since it was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Shrine official Umar Khan told IANS: "All of us heard the gunshots distinctly. It was really loud."

Hundreds streamed out of houses and shops after the shooting. Police immediately stepped up deployment in the area to keep people away from the site.

Random checking of motorcycles also began all across the city.

Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said: "This is a very sad incident."

The Jama Masjid, which faces the Red Fort monument, receives a large number of Indian and foreign tourists, the number going up on Sundays and holidays.






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