At least 16 bombs kill 29 in western India
Bombs exploded near a busy market and a hospital in this western Indian city, killing 29 people and injuring 88 on Saturday, a day after deadly blasts struck the southern technology hub of Bangalore.
Suspicion for both attacks quickly fell on Muslim militants accused of trying to provoke violence between India’s Hindu majority and the Muslim minority. A group calling itself the Indian Mujahedin claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack in an e-mail message sent to several TV stations, but offered few details.
The group was unknown before May when it said it was behind a series of bombings in Jaipur, also in western India, that left more than 60 people dead.
At least 16 bombs went off Saturday evening in several crowded neighborhoods of Ahmadabad. The city, known for the elegant architecture of its mosques and mausoleums, in 2002 was the scene of some of the worst sectarian rioting India has seen since independence 61 years ago.
Saturday’s bombs exploded in two separate bursts. The first, near a busy market, left some of the dead sprawled beside stands piled high with fruit, next to twisted bicycles and in public squares. Another went off near a hospital.
Most of the blasts took place in the narrow lanes of the older part of Ahmadabad, which is tightly packed with homes and small businesses.
Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat state, where Ahmadabad is located, called the blasts “a crime against humanity.” He said the bombings appeared to have been masterminded by a group or groups who “are using a similar modus operandi all over the country.”
Prithviraj Chavan, a junior minister in the prime minister’s office, called the explosions “deplorable” and said they were set off by people “bent upon creating a communal divide in the country.”
The blasts stoked sectarian fears in Ahmadabad, where in 2002 Hindu mobs rampaged against the city’s Muslims, leaving about 1,000 people dead.
The massacre was triggered by a fire on a train packed with Hindu pilgrims that killed 59 passengers. The cause of the blaze remains unclear, but Hindu extremists at the time blamed Muslims and launched the assault on Muslim neighborhoods.
On Friday, seven synchronized small bombs killed two people and injured at least five in Bangalore. On Saturday, police found and defused an eighth bomb near a popular shopping mall in the city.