India Probes Series Of Blasts In Western City

2 Aug

PUNE, India: Federal anti-terror agents joined local police in the western Indian city of Pune on Thursday to probe a series of low-intensity blasts the night before when the new home minister had been due to visit.

The four explosives went off in succession beginning shortly after 7:30 pm (1400 GMT) on Wednesday, targeting a bustling restaurant and shopping area in the town in central Maharashtra state and injuring one person.

National security and forensic teams arrived in Pune early on Thursday and were examining two unexploded devices, Home Secretary R.K. Singh told reporters.

“Even though the blasts were very small, the fact that they happened in a one-kilometre area and went off in a 40 minute period shows that there was planning behind it,” he said.

He said investigators were looking at possible “terror links” to the blasts.

Local reports said ammonium nitrate was used in the devices that were hidden in cake boxes and thought to have been detonated with digital timers.

One of the devices went off in a garbage bin outside a McDonald’s fast-food outlet while two others were attached to bicycles, police said.

An AFP photographer at the scene on Thursday morning said barricades had been removed and normal activity and traffic had resumed.

Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who only officially took up his duties on Wednesday, told reporters in New Delhi that he had originally been scheduled to attend an event at a theatre in Pune the same evening.

The visit was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict.

Shinde held a high-level meeting with home ministry officials on Thursday to review the country’s security situation, particularly in Pune, after the blasts, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Pune was the site of a major bombing in February 2010 that killed 17 people and injured dozens more, including a number of foreigners, in the German Bakery, a restaurant popular with tourists.

That blast was the first major attack on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistan-based militants that claimed 166 lives.

Although no arrests were made, the government said evidence pointed to the involvement of the Indian Mujahideen, a home-grown Islamist group with links to militants in Pakistan.

-AFP/ac

Channel News Asia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: