Today's Paper

Series of bomb blasts on Ahmedabad buses

The bus in which a bomb exploded in Gitamandir in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.— Photo: Paras Shah

The bus in which a bomb exploded in Gitamandir in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.— Photo: Paras Shah  

AHMEDABAD May 29. Panic gripped Ahmedabad this morning following a series of bomb blasts aboard three buses. Two live bombs were found in two other buses and were defused.

Eleven persons, seven of them women, were injured in the three explosions that went off almost simultaneously on three routes between 10 and 10.15 a.m., the peak traffic hour. Three of the injured, including the driver of one of the buses, are critical. Two bomb disposal squad men were injured when one of the bombs went off while being defused.

The State Cabinet, which met in Gandhinagar, described the incidents as a ``terrorist act'' intended to cause panic among the people. The blasts could have been ``influenced'' by the Pakistan President, Pervez Mushrarraf's speech on Monday night and his critical references to the Gujarat riots, it said.

The Urban Development Minister, and Cabinet spokesman, I. K. Jadeja, said the Government did not think that the blasts had anything to do with with the communal disturbances in the State and suspected the hand of terrorists. It decided to constitute a task force of senior police and Home Department officials to probe the incident which was a ``well-planned conspiracy.''

The Minister of State for Home, Gordhan Jhadafiya, said all the three bombs were of the same type, fitted with high-voltage batteries and timers and concealed in plastic tiffin boxes.

The explosions ripped open the sides of two buses and the roof of another was blown off and found 500 metres away. Two bombs exploded in the posh Gurukul and Vasna localities while one went off near the bus depot on the Geeta Mandir Road in the old city.

Buses on all routes were withdrawn immediately for some hours to carry out a thorough check, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

Senior police officials believed that the plastic bombs were of the same type as those exploded in hundreds during the communal disturbances in the city, though the ``tiffin boxes'' were a new phenomena. Some police officials, rejecting the ``ISI hand'' theory did not rule out the possibility of the blasts being caused by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to protest the arrest on Tuesday night of some of their men in connection with the Naroda-Patiya incident during the riots. The VHP leaders, however, denied that the Parivar was behind the blasts.

All the explosions occurred in the Hindu-dominated areas, they pointed out.

Muslim leaders, on their part, claimed that it was not in the interest of the minorities to spread panic when life was fast returning to normal.

Meanwhile, police recovered two bags full of bombs, explosives and arms and ammunitions found abandoned on the outskirts of the curfew-bound Godhra town, scene of the February 27 train carnage.

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