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Bomb Blasts in Western India Kill Dozens

Bomb Blasts Kill, Maim Scores in Western India
By Steve Herman
New Delhi
13 May 2008
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At least 60 people have been killed and 200 injured in bomb explosions in Rajasthan's capital, the old walled city of Jaipur, in western India.  Initial reports say seven bombs detonated, which police believe were placed on bicycles or motor scooters.  VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.


  This television grab from NDTV shows one of the sites of a series of bomb blasts which tore through crowded markets in Jaipur, 13 May 2008

The blasts, occurring during a period of 12 minutes, shook Rajasthan's capital of Jaipur. 

Police say the bombs were placed within a two-kilometer radius and exploded during the busy evening rush hour in some of the city's most crowded venues, including markets and a Hindu temple where devotees had gathered for prayer.

Panic-stricken residents and tourists stampeded from the blast sites where there were mangled heaps of bicycles and rickshaws among the dead and wounded. 

The state's chief minister, Vasundhara Raje, spoke briefly to reporters on her way to inspect the devastation.

The state's top politician says she will not tolerate terrorism in Rajasthan, but does not want to comment further until she can view firsthand the tragic scenes where so many innocent people have died.

It is the first time for Jaipur, known as the Pink City for the color of its 18th century monuments, to have been the target of such attacks.  The city attracts thousands of foreign tourists daily.

Following the blasts, India's two largest cities New Delhi and Mumbai were put on high alert.  The home ministry says it has told all state governments to increase security arrangements.

A Member of Parliament from Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot, speaking to the CNN-IBN network, called the attacks well-coordinated.

"It clearly shows a lot of planning and meticulous thought has been given to this," he said.  "All of these areas in the heart of Jaipur city are one of the most densely populated areas.  Evening time is a bustling time for bazaars.  I think the idea was to inflict maximum damage to life and property."

Media reports quote government officials singling out for blame the Bangladesh-based extremist group, Harkatul-Jehad-al-Islami.  It has been suspected in at least six terrorist attacks in India during the past five years.

India has faced a number of bombings in recent years.  Two explosions last year in Hyderabad killed 43 people.  Two years ago, seven bombings struck Mumbai's commuter rail network, killing nearly 200 people.  In the capital, New Delhi, three markets were bombed in 2005, killing 62 people.
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SOURCE: VOA


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