Weekend crowds targeted; tension mounts in the Andhra Pradesh capital; HuJI hand suspected
HYDERABAD: Two explosions within minutes, one at an amusement park in front of the State Secretariat and another at a popular eatery in the busy Koti area, left at least 34 people dead and more than 50 injured in the city on Saturday. Another unexploded bomb was found in the Dilsukhnagar locality late in the night.
Tension escalated in the capital, as the injured were rushed to hospitals in ambulances, city buses and cars. The 10,000-strong city police were ordered out on the streets to check any violent backlash. Till late in the night, no untoward incidents were reported.
Explosions rocked Lumbini Park, abutting the Hussainsagar lake and in front of the Secretariat main gate, and at Gokul Chat, a popular eatery in the busy Koti area in central Hyderabad, hours after the city police arrested four persons, including a Dubai national, and seized counterfeit currency of Rs 2.36 crore in the old city.
A group of 45 students from the Amritavahini engineering college in Sangamera town, Maharashtra, on a sight-seeing trip to Hyderabad, took the brunt of the massive explosion at Lumbini park. Seven persons died and 11 were injured. The injured were shifted to the nearby Mediciti and Yashoda hospitals. The scene at the site was gruesome, with lumps of flesh strewn around.
At Koti, one of the busiest junctions of the capital, there was a large gathering at Gokul Chat when the blast took place. The casualities here were more — 27 dead and scores injured — as the blast took place inside the building. Dazed passersby rushed into the building minutes after the blast and dragged the injured out. With no ambulances available, they stopped a city bus and loaded all the injured into it and rushed them to the Osmania General Hospital. “I rushed inside. There was lot of smoke and could see many injured people” a visibly shocked man recalled.
Though no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, suspicion centered on the Harkat-ul Jehadi Islami (HuJI). Forensic experts who visited the site said the slurry explosive with metal balls was packed in containers and detonated with a timer. Both the blasts took place around 7.46 p.m. Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who rushed to the blasts sites, said it was a terrorist act and declared his government’s resolve to bring those responsible to justice.
Just about three months ago, a powerful explosion ripped through a massive congregation at the Mecca Masjid near Charminar, killing nine persons. In the violence that followed, five persons were killed in police firing. The May 18 blasts as well as Saturday explosions did not lead to a communal conflagration, as the perpertrators would have hoped for.
Manmohan, Sonia condemn blasts
New Delhi Special Correspondent reports:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee have condemned the Hyderabad blasts.
Dr. Singh expressed deep concern over the welfare of those affected. Mr. Patil said all-out efforts would be made to bring the perpetrators of the ghastly crime to justice. Mr. Chatterjee expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives of innocent people. All leaders offered condolences to the families of those killed.
Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta said the Ministry was closely monitoring the situation in Hyderabad in the wake of the blasts. All assistance would be provided to the State government to tackle the situation. Mr. Gupta spoke to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary and said that all aspects of the blasts were being probed.
Intelligence sources believe the blasts could be the handiwork of terrorist groups; the needle of suspicion in the Mecca Masjid blast on May 18 pointed to the involvement of cadres of the Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami and sleeper cells of the Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit. The timing, venue and high intensity of the blasts indicated that a powerful explosive could have been used.