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Terror strikes Mumbai again; 21 killed, over 140 injured

Thursday July 14, 2011 07:53:13 AM, IANS

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Three explosions rock Mumbai

Scores of people were injured, some critically, as three blasts rocked Mumbai within minutes of each other Wednesday evening, sparking minor fires and panic in India's financial capital.  

Premature to name terror group behind blasts: Home ministry

Three explosions rock Mumbai

Mumbai: A string of powerful bombs went off in three busy areas of India's financial hub during evening rush hour Wednesday, killing 21 people and injuring over 140. It was the first terror attack in India this year -- and the worst since Mumbai's 2008 savagery.

Many of the wounded battled for lives in hospitals after what Home Minister P. Chidambaram described as "a coordinated attack by terrorists" to hit the city between 6.59 p.m. and 7.17 p.m.

No one had claimed responsibility for the devastation so far. A high security alert was sounded all over the country. Home Minister P. Chidambaram rushed to the city around midnight and went straight to the blast sites.

Horrific scenes of death and destruction captured on mobile telephones showed victims dead, dying and crying out in pain in the three sites under attack: Opera House, Zaveri Bazar and Dadar West.

Although these areas were overflowing with motorists and pedestrians, the most crowded was the Zaveri Bazar, where, as usual, hundreds of diamond traders were gathered for close of business.

One man at the Opera House area said he heard a deafening noise that he first mistook as a cylinder blast.

"We rushed down," said the young man, "only to see a lot of smoke. When the smoke subsided, we saw people sprawled on the ground, dying, screaming and in pain."

Witnesses reported seeing victims lying in a pool of blood -- some having lost their limbs. There were several fires.

The bombs, said to be improvised explosive devices, had been concealed in a car and in an umbrella. There was confusion about the third device. Some reports said it was placed in an electric meter.

As it took time for police and ambulances to reach the sites, people in the vicinity managed to take control of the situation and rush the injured to hospitals in their vehicles.

Some staggered away, looking dazed and their clothes soaked in blood.

Within minutes, panic swept Mumbai as news of the bombings spread like wildfire. Many streets got jammed. Police quickly put up roadblocks across the city of 16 million.

Ambulances, their sirens wailing, rushed many to hospitals.

The union home ministry said that 21 people had been killed and 141 injured.

The devastation drew quick international condemnation, including from US President Barack Obama and President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan.

On Twitter, many Indians poured out their anger over the repeated assaults on Mumbai.

It is the first terror attack in Mumbai after Pakistani terrorists ravaged the city in November 2008, leaving 166 Indians and foreigners dead.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan appealed to the people of Mumbai to maintain calm.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, speaking to NDTV, said that there was suspicion that the explosives contained some kind of "Molotov cocktail" as the blasts were incendiary in nature, but he added that police were looking for clues and he did not want to speculate.

To a question on what terror group could be responsible, and if he thought the Indian Mujahideen had a hand in the blasts, the chief minister said he did not want to speculate and wanted the police to complete their probe.

He described the blasts as an attack on India's sovereignty and on Mumbai's spirit. He said the blasts were aimed at creating communal disharmony and he was proud the people of the city had maintained calm.

The most powerful blast took place in the Opera House area, police said, causing widespread destruction.

"There was a big noise," a member of the Mumbai Diamond Merchants Association said. He said he saw 30-35 people sprawled on the ground. Two or three had their legs blown off.

The Opera House is near the Charni Road railway station.

At Dadar, the explosion took place in a parked car near a bus stop at the crowded Kabutarkhana area, barely 500 meters from another railway station.

In Zaveri Bazar, a jewellery hub, the Khau Gully -- famous for its snacks -- was hit. The bomb had been concealed in an umbrella, the chief minister said.

Police fanned out all over the city, preparing for the worst. But while no more bombs went off, they had a tough time controlling the crowds at the three places.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a quick talk with the Maharashtra chief minister.

A six-member National Investigation Agency team arrived in the city to assist Mumbai and Maharashtra police in the investigations into the Mumbai triple blasts. The NIA team is in addition to a seven-member team already present in the country's commercial capital.

Besides, a team of Central Forensics Sciences Laboratory from New Delhi and a team of CFSL from Hyderabad also arrived in Mumbai late Wednesday night.









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