Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Major Terrorist Attack In Mumbai; Twenty Dead, Hundreds Injured

Mumbai, India was hit by three bombs in crowded downtown districts today. The explosions were times so as to go off almost simultaneously, and placed to inflict maximum casualties.

This is the worst attack on Mumbai since the November 2008 attacks done with Pakistani complicity in the city's heart that killed 166 people.

The blasts occurred around 6:45 PM Local Time when people were involved in the rush hour commuting traffic and preliminary investigations indicate that a car and a motorbike were used in the coordinated attacks, which involved IED's. That would lead me to believe that local Muslim groups were involved, with covert backing from the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pakistan and India are scheduled to enter talks to try and normalize relations, later this month, so if the Pakistani government was involved directly like last time, it will be with a decent amount of deniability.Both Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani swiftly condemned the attacks in a statement.

The bombings occurred in crowded commercial districts in central Mumbai.

The first device was planted at Khau Gali in south Mumbai's Zaveri Bazaar. The second blast, planted under an umbrella, (it's the the monsoon season in Mumbai and the weather was rainy) at the Opera House, near Charni Road. The third bomb was placed on an electric pole at a bus stand in Dadar area. The first two bombs went off within one minute of each other, with the third one exploding less than ten minutes later.

The biggest blast was the one that occurred near the old Opera House district, now a major diamond and jewellery trading center.This area was the scene of numerous casualties in the 2008 attacks.

One of my local correspondents writes me the explosions were clearly audible all over the city, that there were blood and body parts lying in the streets amid broken glass and wreckage, and that he expects the death toll to end up being higher than it is now. He also told me that communications were disrupted in Mumbai because phone lines were jammed, so he was unable to inform his family that he was all right, or hear from them. That sort of not knowing remains one of the real tortures in these situations.

Several other Indian cities - Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore were also put on high alert. Noticeably, they all have significant Muslim populations.

President Obama issued a statement saying:

"I strongly condemn the outrageous attacks in Mumbai, and my thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and those who have lost loved ones. The U.S. government continues to monitor the situation, including the safety and security of our citizens. India is a close friend and partner of the United States. The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice. During my trip to Mumbai, I saw firsthand the strength and resilience of the Indian people and I have no doubt that India will overcome these deplorable terrorist attacks."

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