Anger, grief sweep India after Mumbai blasts

Politicians ‘not serious about fighting terror,’ residents charge

Indian police officers look over debris, covered by blue tarps, at the Mumbai Opera House, one of three sites where bombings killed 18 people and wounded 131 on Wednesday. Residents reacted with anger over the lack of security. "Our life is cheap," one said. (Associated Press)Indian police officers look over debris, covered by blue tarps, at the Mumbai Opera House, one of three sites where bombings killed 18 people and wounded 131 on Wednesday. Residents reacted with anger over the lack of security. “Our life is cheap,” one said. (Associated Press)
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MUMBAI — Residents of India’s commerce capital expressed grief Thursday over a trio of synchronized bombings that killed 18 and wounded 131, and anger over the government’s failure to stop terror attacks since the 2008 siege of Mumbai.

Earlier reports counted 21 dead and 141 wounded.

“Our life is cheap. We are taken for granted, and after each attack, as we go back to work driven by the compulsion of livelihood, the politicians pat [us] on the back and call it the Mumbai resilience,” said Jayesh Labdhi, a key member of the Mumbai Diamond Merchants Association.

Indian authorities stepped up security measures after 10 militants waged a three-day siege of Mumbai in 2008, but in the wake of Wednesday’s bombings, they said they might not ever be able to ensure an end to terrorism in their country.

“We live in the most troubled neighborhood in the world,” Home Minister P. Chidambaram said, noting India’s proximity to Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Every part of India is vulnerable.”

Still, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed to bring the culprits in the bomb attacks to justice after flying to Mumbai with the ruling center-left Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi to visit the wounded in hospitals.

“I have asked the chief minister of Maharashtra and the union home minister to continue to coordinate their efforts and resources to relentlessly pursue the perpetrators,” Mr. Singh told reporters in Mumbai.

“They must be brought to justice quickly and be subject to the rule of law that they have sought to subvert,” he said. “I seek the cooperation of all citizens in this effort. We owe this to the grieving families.”

But the high-profile visits failed to quell the anger of residents in Mumbai.

“They are not serious about fighting terror. If they were serious, Ajmal Kasab [the only surviving 2008 Mumbai attacker from Pakistan] would not have been kept alive in the jail spending a fortune on his security despite his death sentence,” said a shopkeeper from Zaveri Bazaar, one of the three blast sites.

India should learn its lessons from USA. There has been no attack since 9/11 there, and they killed Osama bin Laden entering Pakistan,” he said.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating the attacks.

The blasts occurred during Wednesday’s rush hour in crowded, upscale areas of the city. Mr. Chidambaram, the home minister, confirmed Wednesday that the explosions were set by terrorists with homemade bombs.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Home Ministry said it suspects the bombings were conducted by the Indian Mujahedeen, a front group of the Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET).

LET was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack in which 166 people were killed, including six Americans.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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