- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 14, 2010

NEW DELHI (AP) — An apparent bomb tore through a crowded bakery popular with foreigners in western India, killing nine people and wounding 53 in what may be the first terrorist attack in the country since the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

The blast Saturday in the city of Pune, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Mumbai, threatened to damage new efforts to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, with Hindu nationalist leaders already placing the blame for the explosion at India’s Muslim neighbor.

“All the information available to us at the moment points to a plot to explode a device in a place that is frequented by foreigners as well as Indians,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai also said the 7:30 p.m. blast at the German Bakery, near the Osho Ashram, a renowned meditation center, was likely caused by a bomb.

If confirmed, it would be the first terrorist strike in India since 10 Pakistan-based gunmen rampaged through hotels and a train station in the financial hub of Mumbai for 60 hours in November 2008, killing 166 people.

Pune’s Police Commissioner Rajendra Sonawane said nine people were killed Saturday. State Home Minister R.R. Patil said 53 were wounded.

“It appears that an unattended package was noticed in the bakery by one of the waiters who apparently attempted to open the package when the blast took place,” Pillai told reporters.

The building and nearby shops were badly damaged and splattered with thick patches of blood and several limbs. “I came running to the bakery after hearing the explosion. I found people lying all over the place,” said Abba More, who lives nearby.

One foreigner was among those killed and another was wounded in the blast, he said, adding their nationalities were not immediately known.

The blast came as ties between India and archrival Pakistan appeared to be warming. The two countries agreed to hold talks in New Delhi on Feb. 25, their first formal negotiations since the Mumbai attacks.

Asked whether the explosion was linked to the India-Pakistan talks, Pillai said: “Forensic investigations have just begun. Till they are completed, we will not know who is (involved).”

But Gopinath Munde, a senior Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party leader, asserted, “This again is an attack from Pakistan.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide