Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 5 News List

‘Terrorist’ blast in India kills seven people, wounds 82

AFP , MUMBAI, INDIA

A bomb blast that killed seven people and wounded 82 in western India overnight is being treated as a terrorist attack, police said yesterday, fearing further strikes.

“It is a terrorist attack,” the head of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad, Hemant Karkare, said by telephone as he headed to the town of Malegaon, some 280km northeast of India’s financial hub.

Asked whether he feared further attacks, he said: “It can’t be ruled out.”

The blast happened in a crowded market near a mosque in Malegaon late on Monday.

A second, similar attack took place late on Monday in a predominantly Muslim area of Modasa in Gujarat State, killing a boy and wounding nine others.

Relations between Hindus and Muslims in both places have been strained in recent years.

Karkare said a team of anti-terrorism squad officers would be in Malegaon over the coming days as part of the investigation, and forensics experts were sifting through the debris to determine the type of explosives used.

“Our teams are there assisting in the investigation and trying to locate the owner of the two-wheeler used in the blast,” he said.

“Our forensics people are also on the spot. They are trying to ascertain what kind of blast it was, whether it was a crude bomb, remote-controlled or a timer. The situation is a bit chaotic,” he said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack and no arrests had been made, Karkare said, refusing to speculate on who might be behind it.

Some initial reports suggested the carnage was caused by the accidental explosion of gas cylinders on a bicycle.

But Karkare said that theory had now been discounted because it occurred outside a roadside restaurant and the offices of an Islamic students’ movement.

“It was not an accident,” he said.

Five police officers were injured and a curfew was put in place, police said.

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