Indian police investigating a dual bomb attack that killed 15 people outside a movie theater and a bus station in the southern city of Hyderabad were searching for links to a shadowy Islamic militant group with reported ties to Pakistan, an official said yesterday.
Officials were examining whether the Indian Mujahidin, which is thought to have a link with militants in neighboring Pakistan, might have carried out the attack, an investigator said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details of the probe. India’s recent execution of an Islamic militant is being examined as a possible motive for the bombings, he said.
Police have not yet detained anyone in connection with the Thursday evening attack, the first major terror bombing in India since 2011.
Meanwhile, Pakistan yesterday condemned the bomb attacks, saying that “all acts of terrorism are unjustifiable regardless of their motivation.”
“Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“Being itself a victim of terrorism, Pakistan fully understands and shares the pain and agony of the people of India. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of victims of this terrorist attack,” it added.
Indian Minister of Home Affairs Sushilkumar Shinde said there was a general alert about the possibility of an attack somewhere in India for the past three days.
“But there was no specific intelligence about a particular place,” he said as he toured the site yesterday morning.
The bombs were attached to two bicycles about 150m apart in Hyderabad’s Dilsukh Nagar district, Shinde said. He said in addition to the dead, 119 people were injured.
The bombs exploded minutes apart in a crowded shopping area. The blasts shattered storefronts, scattered food and plates from roadside restaurants and left tangles of dead bodies. Passersby rushed the wounded to hospitals.
“This is a dastardly attack; the guilty will not go unpunished,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. He appealed to the public to remain calm.
Top state police officer V. Dinesh Reddy said improvised explosive devices with nitrogen compound were used in the blasts, which he blamed on a “terrorist network.”
Yesterday morning, police with cameras, gloves and plastic evidence bags used pointers to gingerly look through the debris. Officials from the National Investigation Agency and commandos of the National Security Guards arrived from New Delhi to help with the investigation.
India has been under a heightened state of alert over the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant, nearly two weeks ago. He was executed for his involvement in a 2001 attack on India’s parliament that killed 14 people, including five of the gunmen.
Since the execution, near-daily protests have rocked Indian-ruled Kashmir, where many people believe Guru did not receive a fair trial.