20 one people have been reported killed and 141 injured in three blasts that took place in Mumbai late Wednesday, according to the Home Ministry (via NDTV 24×7).Three blasts are reported to have occurred at Zaveri bazaar, Dadar Kabootar khana, and around Opera House.
Chavan said that the strongest blast took place at Opera House in South Mumbai. Eyewitnesses at the site reported running out of their buildings to find the streets filled with black smoke and dismembered, bloody bodies lying in the streets.
The blasts were said to have occurred at 7:10 PM within 15 minutes of each other. Intelligence sources suspect the Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are behind the attacks according to reports by the Indian media.
The Mumbai Police Commissioner has said that the bomb at Zaveri Bazaar was hidden in an umbrella. Previous reports had suggested that the blast took place in a meter box. Zaveri Bazaar was also the site of twin blasts in 1993 in retaliation to the Hindu-Muslim riots in the city in December 1992, and the he demolition of the Babri Masjid Mosque.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been dispatched to the sites. The National Security Guard is also on its way. It has been raining in Mumbai and the presence of large crowds are expected to hinder the forensic evidence at the sites.
The Home Minsitry has declared the serial blasts to be part of a terrorist attack and has reported the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The LeT were found to be responsible for the coordinated terror attacks on Mumbai in 2008 that left 166 dead.
In a report Stratfor said:
“This attack does not appear to be as sophisticated as the 2008 attacks, which involved an assault team consisting of a number of militants that coordinated 10 shooting and bombing attacks across the city. The July 13 attack, by contrast, appears to have not involved suicide attackers but consisted of explosives placed in a taxi, a meter box and locations where they could be remotely detonated. This tactic is much more in line with those used by more amateurish groups, such the Indian Mujahideen, who have targeted crowded urban areas before.”
Meanwhile officials are trying to keep Indians calm and have avoided pointing blame. At a press conference, Mumbai MP Milind Deora asked Mumbaikars to “avoid sentiments of communal disharmony.” Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said:
“The blasts occurred at about 6:45 pm within minutes of each other therefore we infer that these were coordinated attacks by terrorists.
.. NSG which has a hub in Mumbai is standing by. One CFSL, central forensics team from Delhi and Hyderabad are being rushed to Mumbai by aircraft. An NSG post-blast investigation team is being rushed to Mumbai.
…The entire city of Mumbai is on high alert. I would appeal to the people of Mumbai and all over country to remain calm and maintain peace. We will have a statement every two hours. The next statement will be at 11pm.”
The President and Prime Minister of Pakistan have condemned the blasts in Mumbai and expressed their deepest sympathies to the Indian leadership on the loss of lives, injuries and damage to property in Mumbai. The foreign ministers of both countries are set to meet in New Delhi this month to further peace talks.
President Obama released a statement saying he condemned the attacks and said, “The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice.”
The map below gives us a timeline of the blasts:
Photo: NDTV 24×7
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