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Series of blasts strike Ahmedabad

Latest update : 2008-07-27

Dozens were killed and over 100 injured in a series of blasts in Ahmedamad, in western India. This comes on the heels of a series of eight bombings in the southern city of Bangalore on Friday.


   
At least 29 people were killed and over 100 wounded Saturday in a string of more than a dozen coordinated bomb attacks in the tinderbox western Indian city of Ahmedabad, officials said.
   
Indian television channels said a little-known Islamist group calling itself the "Indian Mujahedeen" had claimed responsibility, and the state's right-wing Hindu leader warned he "shall not spare" the culprits.
   
Ahmedabad is the communally-sensitive capital of the opposition Hindu nationalist-ruled state of Gujarat, where thousands were killed in Hindu attacks against Muslims in 2002.
   
The series of 16 bombings in the city, some of them targeting hospitals, came just a day after a similar wave of attacks in the southern technology city of Bangalore.
   
A police spokesman said 29 bodies had been recovered and more than 100 people admitted to hospital. Many were hit by flying nuts, bolts and ball bearings packed into the bombs that were clearly designed to cause maximum casualties.
   
Gujarat's governor, Navin Kishore Sharma, told the CNN-IBN television network that the toll was going up "every moment."
   
"The land of Mahatma Gandhi has been bloodied by terrorists whom we shall not spare," said Narendra Modi, the firebrand chief minister of Gujarat state -- the birthplace of India's independence hero and one of the country's wealthiest.
   
The bombs were detonated with timer devices and all went off in the space of 36 minutes, officials said, and up to four of them targeted medical facilities.
   
"We saw a blue bag near the trauma centre, and before we could react we saw it explode in a shine of blinding light," said doctor Vipul Patil at the privately-run Dhanwantari Hospital.
   
"Some 40 people were hit by flying shrapnel. We offered first-aid to relatives of patients, and patients, who were hit by shrapnel."
   
Reporters at two hospitals saw victims with severe injuries lying on the floor, outnumbering overstretched medical staff. The emergency room of another hospital was littered by broken glass and smeared with blood.
   
India had sounded a nationwide alert on Friday after a series of eight low-intensity bombs went off in IT capital Bangalore and left one dead and seven wounded.
   
Major Indian cities have been hit by a string of apparently well-planned bomb attacks in recent years, with officials in the capital regularly pointing the finger at arch-rival Pakistan or militants backed by Islamabad.
   
Pakistan denies backing Muslim militants, including those operating in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir.
   
But on Monday India said the two countries' peace process was "under stress," repeating allegations that "elements" in Islamabad were behind militant activities including this month's suicide attack against its Kabul embassy.
   
India was also put on high alert after the Bangalore bombings.
   
"We are surprised that despite a high security alert sounded yesterday after the bomb attacks in Bangalore, the blasts occurred today in Ahmedabad. We are shocked," India's Junior Home Minister Shakeel Ahmed said in New Delhi.
   
"It seems there is a lack of coordination between (federal) intelligence agencies and people involved in the policing," he said.
   
An Indian security expert and former head of the country's foreign intelligence service, B. Raman, said he feared a communal backlash in the city, where tensions from the 2002 violence still linger.
   
State leader Modi is a highly controversial figure in India -- and is still accused of turning a blind eye to the 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots which left 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead.
   
"Hospitals are targeted to maximise public anger and this is serious," he said.
   
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the serial attacks, and urged Ahmedabad residents to remain calm, his office said in New Delhi.

Date created : 2008-07-26

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