Fri, Aug 03, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Indian police investigate small Pune blasts

AFP, PUNE, India

Federal anti-terror agents joined local police in the western Indian city of Pune yesterday to probe a series of low-intensity blasts the night before when the new home minister had been due to visit.

The four explosives went off in succession beginning shortly after 7:30pm on Wednesday, targeting a bustling restaurant and shopping area in the town in central Maharashtra state and injuring one person.

National security and forensic teams arrived in Pune early yesterday and were examining two unexploded devices, Indian Home Secretary R.K. Singh told reporters.

“Even though the blasts were very small, the fact that they happened in a 1 kilometer area and went off in a 40 minute period shows that there was planning behind it,” he said.

He said investigators were looking at possible “terror links” to the blasts.

Local reports said ammonium nitrate was used in the devices that were hidden in cake boxes and thought to have been detonated with digital timers.

One of the devices went off in a garbage bin outside a McDonald’s fast-food outlet while two others were attached to bicycles, police said.

A photographer at the scene yesterday morning said barricades had been removed and normal activity and traffic had resumed.

Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who only officially took up his duties on Wednesday, told reporters in New Delhi that he had originally been scheduled to attend an event at a theater in Pune the same evening.

The visit was canceled due to a scheduling conflict.

Shinde held a high-level meeting with home ministry officials yesterday to review the country’s security situation, particularly in Pune, after the blasts, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Pune was the site of a major bombing in February 2010 that killed 17 people and injured dozens more, including a number of foreigners, in the German Bakery, a restaurant that was popular with tourists.

That blast was the first major attack on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistan-based militants that claimed 166 lives.

Although no arrests were made, the government said evidence pointed to the involvement of the Indian Mujahideen, a home-grown Islamist group with links to militants in Pakistan.

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