163 KILLED IN INDIAN TRAIN BLASTS
by Salil Panchal and Paul Peachey
July 11, 2006
MUMBAI (AFP) - Seven explosions
ripped through commuter trains and stations during evening rush hour in India's financial capital Mumbai, killing
at least 163 people in an attack the prime minister blamed on terrorists.
Train cars packed with commuters
were blown apart, and television images showed ghastly footage of bloodied limbs and dead bodies in the wreckage after one
of the worst such attacks in India in
Police said at least 163
were killed and 464 injured in the attacks in Mumbai, a sprawling city of almost 18 million people and the capital of the
state of Maharashtra.
Suspicion immediately fell
on Islamists who have been fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir,
part of which is held by Pakistan, where
eight tourists were earlier killed in a series of grenade attacks.
"Obviously a terrorist outfit
is behind the blasts because a normal human being could not have done this," said Mumbai police commissioner A.N. Roy. Neighbouring
Pakistan condemned what it called a "despicable
act of terrorism."
Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh called for calm after an emergency meeting at his official residence.
"We will work to defeat
the evil designs of terrorists and will not allow them to succeed," he said. "The government will take all possible measures
to maintain law and order and defeat the forces of terrorism."
Indian authorities sounded
a high alert across the capital New Delhi, at trains and bus stands in Uttar
Pradesh, India's most populous state, as well as in Kashmir, where an Islamic insurgency has been raging for 16 years.
The apparently coordinated
blasts occurred at packed railway stations or on trains in the Matunga, Khar, Mahim, Jogeshwari, Borivali and Bhayendar localities
in and around Mumbai, he said. A seventh hit a subway.
The explosions took place
within about 20 minutes of each other on Mumbai's packed trains that take several millions to and from work every day.
"The blast was so powerful
that we thought we were hit by lightning. It shook our market," said shopkeeper Gopi Chand, who witnessed the blast in Khar.
Television footage showed
dazed commuters with blood dripping from gaping injuries being carried by fellow travellers to waiting ambulances near Mahim
station. Others frantically tried to call their relatives on mobile telephones.
One young man sat in a metro
station with blood streaming down his face. Another young man buried his face weeping into a white handkerchief. People who
were unhurt scrambled off trains and streamed down the tracks to safety.
"People began jumping off
our running train when a bomb went off and filled the carriage with smoke and fire," said a commuter with serious injuries
to his left arm and shoulder.
The injured were helped
out of the mangled compartments, many of which were turned into piles of twisted metal.
Shoes, handbags, clothes
and other items littered tracks. Bodies were sprawled on the tracks and being carried in sheets away from the trains.
Firemen scoured the wreckage
of a train hit in Matunga rail station. Police said the blasts had occurred on first-class carriages of the commuter trains.
Ambulances and taxis ferried
the injured to the city's hard-pressed hospitals amid reports of some shortages of blood and medicine.
One doctor, Supriya Kulkarni,
told AFP: "We've got all kinds of traumatic injuries, some lost limbs. We've amputated some (limbs) and people have lost a
lot of blood."
Mumbai has seen several
bombings in the past. It was rocked in 1993 by a series of blasts which killed some 250 people and injured over 1,000.
Police have blamed Muslim
underground figures or Kashmiri militants for most of the attacks.
The blasts drew swift condemnation
from nations around the world including Britain, Russia
and the United States, which have suffered
attacks on their own soil.
"I condemn utterly these
brutal and shameful attacks. There can never be any justification for terrorism," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said.
"We stand united with India, as the world's largest democracy, through our shared
values and our shared determination to defeat terrorism in all its forms," he said.