Bomb Attacks in Bombay Kill at Least 142

By Muneeza Naqvi
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, July 11, 2006; 8:56 PM

NEW DELHI, July 11 -- At least seven powerful bombs detonated in commuter trains and stations during the Tuesday evening rush hour in Bombay, India's commercial capital, killing at least 142 people and wounding close to 350. Authorities called the explosions a coordinated terror attack.

In pouring monsoon rain, rescue workers helped dazed and bleeding survivors from rail cars that were left mangled by the quick succession of blasts, television images showed. Luggage and other debris littered the platforms; doors were blown off.

There was no immediate assertion of responsibility for the attacks, which appeared to focus on first-class carriages. Authorities have blamed previous terrorist strikes in Bombay on indigenous Muslim groups motivated by sectarian hatred.

"This is a painful incident. I see this as a part of a larger conspiracy," Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, said on New Delhi Television channel. "The blasts occurred between 6 and 6:30 p.m. when the local trains are running at their busiest." Bombay, also called Mumbai, is the capital of Maharashtra.

The city's commuter rail system is one of the most heavily patronized in the world, carrying about 6 million people a day. The explosions, all along a single rail corridor in a western sector of the port city, caught passengers at very close quarters.

"It was a deafening sound and before anybody could realize anything the roof of the train was ripped apart," Mukund Thakur, who was traveling to the northern suburb of Andheri, told the Reuters news agency. "People were thrown outside. I saw limbs strewn around me."

Santosh Patil, a railway laborer, told the agency that "we collected scattered limbs with our own hands and put them in bundles and sent them to hospital." He was interviewed carrying a mangled body on a stretcher into a hospital.

The blasts came hours after a series of grenade attacks killed five Indian tourists and injured more than 30 other people in Srinagar, capital of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir. Muslim insurgents have been fighting Indian authority there, seeking union with Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country.

India's rail systems and airports were put on high alert after the explosions in Bombay. Phone lines to Bombay from New Delhi, the Indian capital, were jammed.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called an emergency meeting Tuesday with his national security advisers to discuss the attacks.

"The series of blasts in Mumbai and in Kashmir are a shocking and cowardly attempt to spread fear and terror among all citizens. I condemn these shameful acts and I reiterate our commitment to fighting terror in all its forms," the prime minister said in a statement read by Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

Patil said that any possible links between the two attacks would be investigated.

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