Terror Strikes India, Hindu Temple Targeted
Three bomb blasts went off in the northern Indian city of Varanasi today where at least 21 people were killed. There was a wedding ceremony taking place in a crowded Hindu temple where one of the blasts went off.
People and policemen stand at the site of a bomb blast at the railway station in Varanasi, India, Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Explosions rocked a packed railway station and crowded Hindu temple Tuesday in Hinduism’s holiest city, and at least 12 people were killed and dozens injured, officials said. (AP Photo/Rajesh Chaurasia)
The second blast occurred at 6.30 p.m. at the railway station in the city’s cantonment area, 11 km from the temple. The third blast occurred almost simultaneously in a coach of an express train that was about to pull out.
Venarasi is one the oldest cities in the world and is Hinduism’s most sacred city.
One of the blasts went off in a temple and two others went off in the railroad station. A third bomb was found in a residential area and was being defused:
“Fifteen people have died and about 60 are injured. The blasts were pretty big and I do not rule out a terrorist hand behind it,” Navneet Sikera, Varanasi’s police chief, told Reuters.
The three explosions occurred between 6 p.m. and 6.45 p.m., police said. A bomb was also recovered from a residential area and was being defused, they added.
“There was a very loud noise and all my men rushed to the spot,” said Jabir Ali, a police inspector at Varanasi’s cantonment railway station.
No group claimed responsibility for the blasts and officials said it was too early to pin blame. But most previous attacks on Hindu temples in India have been blamed on Islamic militants.
Today is a Hindu Holy Day and so there were many people going to pray at the temple. There was a large number of devotees present at the peak evening aarti (prayer) time at the temple including the weeing party.
Spectators and policemen stand at the site of a bomb blast at the railway station in Varanasi, India, Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Explosions rocked the packed railway station and a crowded Hindu temple, in Hinduism’s holiest city, and at least 12 people were killed and dozens injured, officials said. (AP Photo/Rajesh Chaurasia)
The city has had problems in the past between Hindus and Moslims and there is a mosque located close to the temple. Hindustan Times is reporting that 20 people have died and that there are a number who are seriously injured:
The first blast took place inside famous Sankatmochan temple adjacent to Kashi Vishwanath temple when it was teeming with devotees at the evening “aarti” time killing four persons on the spot.
Minutes later, another blast took place at the holding area of platform number one of the Varanasi Cantonment railway station when Delhi-bound Shivaganga Express was stationary
Bombs have been recovered from the Godaulia market area of the city too.The injured have been rushed to the SS Hospital of Benaras Hindu University.
Sources say that the hand of Lashkar-e-Taiba is suspected to be behind the bombings.
Ken McCracken at WILLisms has been to Varanasi and describes his odd experience.
Publius Pundit has more on these terrorist acts today.
Update March 9: An obscure Muslim group has taken credit for the blasts.