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India ups security after blasts kill more than 160

July 11, 2006

By Krittivas Mukherjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Police stepped up security across India
on Wednesday after bombs killed more than 160 people and
wounded hundreds in packed commuter trains and stations in the
financial hub, Mumbai.

“I urge people to remain calm, not to believe rumors and
carry on their activity normally,” Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh said, calling the seven explosions that took
place during the evening rush hour on Tuesday a “shameful act.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
attacks 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.

Pakistan, which denies Indian charges of tacit support for
the militants, condemned what it labeled a “terrorist attack.”

Extra security was brought in across India both to prevent
any further attacks and to guard against any possible backlash
against the minority Muslim community.

The blasts brought worldwide expressions of outrage.

“We condemn thoroughly this terrible terrorist incident,”
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in
Washington. “We will stand with India in the war on terror.”

Police inspector Ashok Jadhav told Reuters the bomb blasts
had killed 163 people and wounded around 460.

In the aftermath, hundreds of dazed passengers walked along
railway lines and many helped pull bodies from mangled
carriages and rush the injured to hospitals as monsoon rain
fell.

“I took out at least 35 dead bodies from the trains,” a
middle-aged man told local TV, weeping uncontrollably. “There
were people without hands and limbs and we took them to
hospital.”

A policeman was shown carrying two white, blood-stained
bundles of what appeared to be body parts.

“Such acts cannot possibly be excused by any grievance,”
U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said in New York.

CONFIDENCE KNOCKED

Commuters fled suburban rail stations in panic after the
explosions and mobile phone lines were jammed. TV stations said
an eighth bomb was defused in a Mumbai suburban station.

D.K Shankaran, chief secretary of the state of Maharashtra,
of which Mumbai is the capital, said the city would bounce
back.

“Mumbai will be up tomorrow. Every single school, college
and office will remain open,” he told Reuters.

But India’s financial markets were expected to suffer on
Wednesday, with analysts saying the attacks were likely knock
foreign investor confidence.

Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party,
expressed her grief before heading for Mumbai.

At the city’s Sion hospital, relatives frantically searched
for friends and relatives, poring over lists of the injured.

Haji Mastan sobbed as he told how he had spoken to his
cousin Mukti Darvesh 10 minutes before he died. “Why did it
have to end like this? He was young and he has children.”

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

All suburban train services in the city were suspended
after the blasts but by late on Tuesday a limited service was
running on the western line, along which the attacks took
place.

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

SRINAGAR VIOLENCE

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

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurseed Mehmood Kasuri told
Reuters in Washington the blasts underlined the need for
Pakistan and India to resolve their disputes. The neighbours,
both nuclear-armed, have fought three wars since 1948.

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

More than 250 people died in a string of bomb explosions
there in 1993 for which authorities blamed 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
MUMBAI)


Source: reuters



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