Tue, Aug 26, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Two blasts rip through central Mumbai, kill 42


At least 42 people were killed and more than a hundred wounded yesterday when two bombs exploded in the heart of India's financial capital Mumbai, police said.

It was not immediately clear who planted the bombs. One exploded near the historic Gateway of India, a crowded monument in the tourist heart of the city, while the other exploded in a congested bullion market near a Hindu temple.

"There were legs and hands lying on top and inside my taxi. I had a miraculous escape," said taxi driver Lal Sahib Singh, whose clothes were soaked in blood. He had been driving past the bullion market when the bomb exploded.

It was the worst attack in Mumbai since 1993 when a series of bomb blasts killed at least 260 people. Those attacks were seen as retaliation for Muslim deaths following Hindu-Muslim riots.

Indian police have long feared a similar reaction following riots in the western state of Gujarat last year in which at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.

India has also in the past blamed Pakistan-based militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority state, for bombs and other attacks.

The Mumbai blasts followed a thaw in relations between nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India, which came close to war last year following a December 2001 attack on India's parliament that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Pakistan, which had denied involvement in the parliament attack, condemned the Mumbai blasts as "acts of terrorism."

Police official S.K. Tonapi said at least 42 people had been killed and more than 100 wounded.

A state home ministry official said there had been four blasts around the city, but could not confirm that all were bombs. Police said they had confirmation of only two bombs.

Bombay has been hit by a series of deadly bomb attacks in recent months.

Three died in December when a bomb exploded on a bus; 12 were killed in March by a bomb on a rush-hour train and in July, two people were killed in a fresh bomb attack on a bus.

A witness at the Gateway of India said he picked up four to five people who very badly injured and put them into taxis and asked the drivers to rush them to hospital.

"They were all soaked in blood," he said.

There were huge patches of blood on the ground next to the Gateway, along with parts of cars shattered and twisted by the blast.

Blood and broken glass lay scattered on bustling Dhanji Street in central Bombay, where the city's bullion trade is situated. Shop windows were smashed for several hundred meters along the street.

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