Dozens of people were killed and more than 100 injured when six bombs ripped through the centre of Jaipur, one of India’s most popular tourist destinations.
The explosions, which began at 7.30pm, took place in markets surrounding the city’s pink palace, the Hawa Mahal, and its main temple complex.
Television pictures showed empty blood-splattered streets and the red-stained clothes of the dead being cleared away by police. Bomb disposal officers defused at least one other device.
The attack sparked a red alert in Mumbai, India’s financial hub, and New Delhi, the country’s capital. Security was also stepped up at airports and railway stations across the country, said India’s junior home minister, Sriprakash Jaiswal.
Rohit Singh, a senior official in the state of Rajasthan, told local television that between 50 and 60 people had been killed in six blasts ”as per information available with me right now”. However, local reporters told television stations that there were 55 bodies in just one hospital.
”It will definitely rise. There’s just too many in [one hospital],” said Akilesh Kumar, Jaipur bureau chief with the Times of India.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the act, Rajasthan’s police chief, AS Gill, described the strike as ”a terrorist plot”, adding: ”The way it has been done, the attempt was to cause the maximum damage to human life.”
Police say bicycles appear to have been used in the bombings, but it was unclear whether it was the work of suicide bombers riding through the crowds or of explosives planted on bicycles.
It is clear that the bombers planned a bloody attack. The first bomb struck a temple dedicated to the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, whose divinity is celebrated every Tuesday. Eyewitnesses said the temple was packed with devotees offering prayers on their way home from work.
”The next bomb was near Johari bazaar and looked like it was placed near a Muslim jewellery shop,” eyewitness Lalit Khateri told NDTV news. ”It was very busy with Hindus and Muslims. It was an attack not on Hindus or Muslims but Indians.”
Johari bazaar is the city’s jewellery market and a popular destination for tourists. However the tourist season ended in March and it is unlikely that foreigners were hit in the blast.
India has had a long history of bomb attacks. Last year two explosions killed more than 40 people in Hyderabad. – guardian.co.uk Ã‚