One killed as bombs go off in India’s IT hub Bangalore (Roundup)

July 25th, 2008 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shivraj Patil

Bangalore, July 25 (IANS) A string of six blasts rocked Bangalore’s central business district and other crowded areas within 75 minutes Friday afternoon, killing a woman seated at a deserted bus stop, injuring half a dozen people and leaving the country’s IT hub scarred. Authorities in both New Delhi and in Karnataka appealed for calm as the serial blasts caused some panic in parts of Bangalore, leading to the hurried closure of several IT companies, cinema halls and shopping malls.

The first explosion took place at 1.20 p.m. at Madiwala, about 10 km from the city centre where the victim, Lakshmi, was killed when splinters from the bomb hit her head, the police said. The last of the blasts took place at 2.35 p.m. at Richmond Town, an upscale residential and business area, five kilometres from city centre.

Madiwala is located on the busy Hosur Road leading to Electronic City, home to a number of leading and smaller IT firms. Unofficial reports say two explosions took place at Madiwala but police could not confirm that.

The other places where the bombs went off were Nayandhalli, 10 km from the city centre, Adugodi, close to Madiwala, Koramangala, an upscale residential and commercial area 12 km from the heart of Bangalore, Vittal Mallya Road, and Richmond Town, an upscale residential and business area.

The explosions, triggered by timer devices and mobile phones, caused more panic than damage but revived fears that terrorist outfits were increasing making the city their base.

“Explosives equal to the quantity of one or two grenades have been used and the blasts were triggered by timer devices and mobile phones,” Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar Bidri told reporters.

“It appears to be an act to create panic in the city,” he said and urged the people of Bangalore not to panic. “We will investigate and arrest the suspects.”

Life in most parts of the city remained normal initially but traffic piled up in areas where the blasts occurred.

At most places, the explosives were placed under garbage. At Madivala, the bomb was concealed near an electricity supply transformer, police said.

“It is clear that it is a well-planned operation, intended more to spread terror than to cause damage and dent Bangalore’s image as a safe and peaceful city,” a senior police official said.

In New Delhi, Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta described these as “low intensity blasts” and said police and other security agencies were collecting evidence. He said it would be too early to say who was responsible for the well-coordinated attacks.

In states such as Kerala and West Bengal, security was stepped up. In Bangalore itself mobile phone networks got jammed for hours after the blasts.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil condemned the serial blasts and promised all help to the state government in tracking down the perpetrators.

“The ministry is in close touch with the Karnataka government. Such incidents will not deter the government from pursuing its policy of dealing with anti-national elements in a resolute manner.”

This is not the first time Karnataka has been hit by a terror attack. In December 2005, the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out an attack at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science campus killing a scientist.

The blasts sent equity markets crashing, even as the corporate sector expressed worries over its impact on the country’s $65 billion IT industry that houses companies like Infosys, Wipro, Intel, Microsoft and Yahoo!.

“The blasts may be the strategy of unscrupulous forces to undermine the primacy of Bangalore as a global knowledge centre,” said Amit Mitra, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Anil Aggarwal, the former president of the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), said the blasts were a bad omen for India and its industry, which was already facing a series of hardships. “This gives the impression that terrorists can strike any city.”

Karnataka’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blamed what it said was the central government’s “soft approach” towards terrorism for the incident. BJP president Rajnath Singh made the remarks at a media briefing in New Delhi.

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