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Serial blasts kill 70 persons in Delhi

Terror and Trauma: A blast victim being rushed to hospital in New Delhi on Saturday

Terror and Trauma: A blast victim being rushed to hospital in New Delhi on Saturday  

Bombs go off at two marketplaces and one explodes inside a DTC bus; countrywide red alert sounded

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: At least 70 persons were killed and several injured in three powerful serial explosions here on Saturday evening. While two bombs went off at busy marketplaces, one exploded inside a Delhi Transport Corporation bus. Following the explosions, suspected to have been caused by Improvised Explosive Devices, a countrywide red alert was sounded. No terrorist outfit has so far claimed responsibility.

The first explosion took place around 5.25 p.m. at Chheh Tuti Chowk in Paharganj, central Delhi, the bus blast at 5.40 p.m. at Govindpuri in South Delhi and the third and most powerful one at 5.45 p.m. at the Sarojini Nagar market in South-West Delhi. An explosive device was defused outside the State Bank of Bikaner at Chandni Chowk in the Walled City area.

Shops go up in flames

At Sarojini Nagar, it is suspected that the bomb was planted inside a Maruti van parked near shops. Within seconds, half a dozen cloth shops went up in flames. Subsequently, a couple of gas cylinders exploded inside a juice and chaat shop. The festival buzz at the bustling market place gave way to chaos as people fled fearing more explosions. Such was the impact of the blast that some shops just crumbled. The police did not rule out the possibility of people lying buried under the debris. At least 40 persons died in the blast here. Scores were injured, some of them critically.

The bomb that rocked the Paharganj main bazaar is suspected to have been planted in a motorcycle or a rickshaw parked near a jewellery shop. People scattered in panic as smoke swirled from the blast site.

Eyewitnesses said the jewellery outlet and adjoining shops took the impact. There were pools of blood on the road with body parts strewn around. Bags, shoes and chappals lay scattered. Local traders with the help of the police rushed the injured to the Ram Manohar Lohia, Lady Hardinge and Kalawati Saran hospitals.

According to police sources, at least 25 persons were killed and over 45 injured in this blast. Four bodies, including that of a child, were burnt beyond recognition.

The explosion in the DTC bus (DL-1PB-2719) near the Kalkaji Depot injured six persons, including the driver and the conductor. Eyewitnesses said the passengers sounded an alert after they spotted an unclaimed bag under a seat. After stopping the bus at the roundabout near Anandmai Marg, the driver picked up the bag, triggering the explosion, it is said. All the injured were rushed to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Serial blasts kill 70 persons in Delhi

Soon after the blasts, the Union Home Ministry convened an emergency meeting to review security in the capital. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced an ex gratia payment of Rs. 3 lakhs to the families of each of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to those seriously injured.

RDX suspected

Police Commissioner K.K. Paul, visiting the site of blasts, said investigations were handed over to the Special Cell of the Delhi police. RDX is suspected to have been used in the bombs.

Even as raids were under way at hotels and guesthouses, unconfirmed reports said two persons from Kashmir were detained at the New Delhi railway station. An agency report said 10 persons were taken into custody.

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