July 11, 2006

Mumbai train blasts kill over 160

By Krittivas Mukherjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bombs exploded on packed commuter trains
and stations in India's financial hub, Mumbai, on Tuesday,
killing over 160 people and wounding hundreds, officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
seven bomb explosions that took place within about 10 minutes
during evening rush hour.

But suspicion was likely to center on Muslim militants
fighting New Delhi's rule in disputed Kashmir, who have been
blamed for several bomb attacks in India in the past.

"The death toll is 163 and around 460 people have been
injured," police inspector Ashok Jadhav told Reuters.

"We are not sure if it is RDX or not," city Police
Commissioner A.N. Roy said, referring to the possible use of
high-powered plastic explosives.

Commuters fled suburban rail stations in panic after the
explosions and mobile phone lines were jammed. Hundreds of
dazed passengers walked along the railway tracks.

Television showed twisted rail carriages and people in
torn, blood-stained clothes carrying the dead and wounded on
stretchers as steady monsoon rain fell. A policeman was shown
carrying two white, blood-stained bundles of what appeared to
be body parts.

"The blasts happened when the trains were most crowded,"
D.K Shankaran, chief secretary of the state of Maharashtra, of
which Mumbai is the capital, told Reuters.

At peak hours, each nine-car passenger train in Mumbai
carries over 4,500 people, about three times the rated

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for calm and Sonia
Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, expressed her

"I urge the people to remain calm, not to believe rumors
and carry on their activity normally," Singh said in a
statement, calling the explosions a "shameful act."

Pakistan, the United States, the European Union, France and
Britain condemned the explosions.

"We condemn thoroughly this terrible terrorist incident,"
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in
Washington. "We will stand with India in the war on terror. It
just shows this kind of hideous incident can happen anywhere in
the world against innocent people."


At the city's Sion hospital, relatives were frantically
looking for friends and relatives. Scores pored over a board
displaying a list of injured.

"I spoke to him 10 minutes before he died," said Haji
Mastan, sobbing uncontrollably after being told about the death
of his cousin Mukti Darvesh, who was traveling on one of the

"Why did it have to end like this? He was young and he has
children." Some of the people who entered a makeshift morgue
were unable to identify badly mutilated bodies.

The blasts occurred on five trains and at two stations in
Mumbai's suburbs, which are linked to the downtown office and
business areas mainly by an overground rail network that is
used by some 6.5 million people each day.

Railway authorities suspended suburban train services in
the city after the blasts.

Dazed survivors with wounds from injuries to heads, legs
and hands waited at railway stations, with little sign of any
emergency medical aid.

"We heard a loud blast in one of the train compartments.
When we rushed there and looked, we saw people with severed
limbs and grievous injuries," one witness told the CNN-IBN news
channel, standing in a blood-spattered coach.

"There were no police or railway people to help."

The first attack took place at 6.24 p.m. (1154 GMT) with
the others following in quick succession.

"Incidents had taken place in the space of 10 minutes. It
appears to be pre-planned," Anil Sharma, chief security
commissioner of Western Railway, told CNN-IBN television


The Mumbai blasts came just hours after suspected Islamist
militants killed seven people, six of them tourists, in a
series of grenade attacks in Indian Kashmir's main city,
Srinagar, police said, the most concerted targeting of
civilians in months.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since
shortly after the two countries gained independence from
Britain in 1947, but both claim it in full.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that
President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
strongly condemned the "terrorist attack" in Mumbai.

Mumbai, a metropolis of about 17 million formerly known as
Bombay, has been hit by bomb blasts in the past decade.

More than 250 people died in a string of bomb explosions in
the city in 1993 for which authorities blamed the city's
underworld criminal gangs. Those attacks followed the
demolition of a mosque in the Hindu holy city of Ayodhya.

(Additional reporting by M.C. Govardhana Rangan, Anurag
Joshi, Bappa Majumdar, Kaustav Roy, and Charlotte Cooper in