Bombings in New Dehli

Coordinated Bomb Blasts Rock New Delhi
Scores Injured, More Than a Dozen Killed in Multiple Explosions in India's Capital
By Rama Lakshmi and Emily Wax
Washington Post, September 13, 2008

NEW DELHI, Sept. 13 -- At least five bombings within 45 minutes struck busy shopping districts in India's capital Saturday, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 60.

A little known group calling itself the Indian Mujaheddin asserted responsibility for the attacks, saying in e-mails sent to several news stations: "Stop us if you can. We strike with message of death. We are terrorizing for your sins."

"This is shameful, but they can't kill the spirit of Delhi's people," the city's mayor, Arti Mehra, told reporters as she visited one of the blast sites.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also condemned the attacks and appealed for calm.

More than 400 people have been killed in bombings across India in the past three years. The attacks usually lead to waves of arrests but are rarely solved.

The first blast Saturday occurred just after 6 p.m. in a crowded market in northwestern Delhi. Two blasts were reported at a shopping arcade known as Greater Kailash in southern Delhi, where restaurants and bars were packed on a Saturday night. The last two blasts occurred in the central part of the city at Connaught Place, a popular tourist spot.

Another bomb failed to detonate near India Gate, a historic arch near the heart of the government complex.

The explosions in the Greater Kailash market shattered windows and blew glass across sidewalks. The bombs, which were apparently made of ball bearings, also blew out the windshields of several cars. Police and forensic experts were trying to work through crowds of curious by-standards.

"I was outside my shop sipping my tea, and suddenly I heard the blast somewhere near the car. And I dropped my cup," said Avinash Mishra, 21, a salesman at a Levi's store at Greater Kailash near one of the blasts. "Everyone was running here and there. People started rushing out of shops crying. Women were holding onto children. My heart beat went from 72 to 92."

The words "Run! Run!" echoed through "the entire market," Mishra said. Within moments, another bomb went off nearby. "The people didn't know where to run," Mishra said. "They thought bombs were going to explode from all four corners. God saved my life."

Television images of other bomb sites showed blood-drenched sidewalks and ambulances trying to push through the crowds.

Heavily trafficked areas are often the target of attacks in India.

On July 26, at least 56 people were killed when a series of blasts tore through the western city of Ahmedabad. The blasts occurred outside a diamond market, near a hospital, next to a railway station and in a bus, a day after at least seven small explosions killed two people in Bangalore, a technology hub.

India's Intelligence Bureau received an e-mail from the Indian Mujaheddin about the attacks in Ahmedabad. A similar message was received in May when the pink-walled city of Jaipur, in northwestern India, was rocked by a series of simultaneous blasts that killed more than 83 people and seriously wounded more than 200.

In 2005, 50 people were killed in New Delhi during the festive holiday weekend of Diwali.

The government has been criticized for failing to boost security in busy marketplaces. Many security cameras put in after the Diwali bombings do not work, according to recent newspaper reports.

"It's a posh market and a peaceful market," O.P. Shardam, a local official in Greater Kailash, said as he toured the market. "All this is to get people scared. The government is too soft on terrorists. They are not in control. People keep losing lives and shedding tears. And the government keeps issuing statements."

Wax reported from Calcutta.

Also See:
22 dead, scores injured in New Delhi bomb blasts - AFP
Terror challenge to be met head on: PM - The Hindu


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