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Two arrested after India bomb blasts kill 63 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 May 2008

Two arrested after India bomb blasts kill 63AFP, JAIPUR - Indian police have arrested two men after eight near-simultaneous bombings killed 63 people and wounded 216 in the Rajasthan tourist city of Jaipur, the state's chief minister said Wednesday.

"We have arrested two people and have detained several (more) people for questioning," Vasundhara Raje told a press conference.

"We have information that 63 people have died and many are injured critically," she said after the blasts ripped through crowded markets on Tuesday night.

Seven women and 10 children were among the dead, Raje said.

"RDX and ammonium nitrate were used. Ball-bearings were used, which have weight, and they behave like tiny missiles. Timing devices were used," he said.

"This seems to have been done by some international group," the chief minister added. Pakistan-based Islamic militants and fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir are usually blamed for such attacks.

State home minister Gulab Chand Kataria had earlier told AFP around a dozen people had been detained. "We are trying our best to unravel the conspiracy behind this dastardly attack," he said.

Among those detained in the city, which was under a day-time curfew, were one of the wounded and a rickshaw puller, a police official said.

Kataria had initially put the death toll at 80 and 200 wounded while the Press Trust of India reported an "unofficial" toll of 85 dead.

The serial blasts went off within minutes of each other close to several Hindu temples in what police said was a terror attack on the city 260 kilometres (160 miles) west of the Indian capital.

One unexploded bomb was found attached to a bicycle at one of the explosion sites and was defused, police said. Other devices were also planted on bikes as well as rickshaws and a car.

Schools and government offices shut Wednesday in a day of mourning across the desert state.

"It's a terror attack. There was no (intelligence) report of this," said police director general A.S. Gill.

No claims of responsibility were reported.

India's junior home minister Shriprakash Jaiswal told reporters "the people responsible for these attacks have foreign connections," without naming Pakistan.

In Jaipur hospital wards and at the morgue, the dead included Hindus and Muslims, a strong minority in the city, an AFP reporter said.

A shock of thick black hair was all that peeped out from under a white sheet that covered a small body at the morgue.

Ten-year-old Kanha Mahar had gone to a temple to the Hindu deity Hanuman on a traditional day to pray to the monkey god.

"We were looking for him all evening," said his uncle Jagdish Kumar Gathera, who found him at the hospital.

Gathera and other relatives looked on in shocked silence as Mahar's body was taken off a rusty gurney, leaving behind a pool of blood.

Hanuman Swami, a 22-year-old father of one, was at the Hanuman temple when he was hit by flying metal.

"I was standing outside the temple praying when I heard an explosion and I just fell down," he said.

Muhammad Farid, 29, was heading home from work when the blasts hit.

"I felt like I was hit by lightning and I couldn't really figure out what was happening," the father of five told AFP at the same hospital, a blood-stained bandage around his arm.

Several of the explosions took place along the walled city's Johari bazaar, a strip of shops housed in pink buildings that are the hallmark of Jaipur, known as the pink city.

"I heard two explosions ... then a bomb went off right in front of me," said Malchand Bagoria, who runs a fruit stall opposite one of the bomb sites.

"Then I saw a woman's body go flying through the air. There were so many bodies."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and appealed for calm, as the government issued a nationwide security alert. State borders were sealed.

Singh announced compensation of about 2,400 US dollars to the next of kin of each of the dead.

World capitals from Washington to Paris and London condemned the attacks.

Cities across India have been bombed repeatedly in recent years and analysts say Islamic extremist groups are attempting to stoke sectarian tensions to derail a peace process with Pakistan and damage India's booming economy.

Jaipur, Rajasthan's capital, is popular with foreign and domestic tourists but there were few in the city in mid-May, the hot season in northern India.

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