After More Bomb Blasts, India Pledges to Fight Terror

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

( - Reeling from yet another bombing, the Indian government has vowed -- again -- to eliminate terrorism, which some officials believe emanates from neighboring Pakistan or Bangladesh.

But Home Minister Shivraj Patil conceded the magnitude of the job facing the government in the world's second-most populous nation: "Our country is so big that even if we have the information that something is planned, we do not know where or when," said Patil, whose portfolio includes national security.

At least 42 people were killed and 50 more injured in two explosions in Hyderabad on Saturday, one in a park and the other at a popular restaurant. Police found and defused an unconfirmed number of unexploded devices elsewhere in the city, according to Indian media reports.

The bombings in the city, an important information technology hub in southeast India's Andhra Pradesh state with a 40 percent Muslim population, were the latest in a series of deadly attacks in India, most recently the bombing of a mosque in Hyderabad last May. Government officials also blamed that attack on foreign elements.

Citing U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center figures, the Times of India reported Monday that 3,674 people were killed in terror attacks in India between January 2004 and March of this year -- considerably more than in any other country apart from Iraq.

The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, told a press conference that Saturday's attack could be the work of terrorists from Pakistan or Bangladesh. As of Monday, however, police had yet to report any clear leads in their investigation. The governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh both denied the charge.

Hindu-majority India and mostly Muslim Pakistan are historic foes but have been enjoying improved ties over the past few years, although a long running dispute over Kashmir -- divided between them and claimed by both -- remains unresolved. The infiltration of Islamic radicals across their common border into Indian territory remains an irritant in relations.

The government of Pakistan has itself been grappling with stepped-up violence in its tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan.

"Many in India's strategic community ... have little doubt that General [Pervez] Musharraf's domestic travails have strengthened pro-jihad hawks in Pakistan -- a trend reflected in the unusually high level of infiltration across the Line of Control [in Kashmir] this summer," said The Hindu newspaper.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey condemned the attacks, and said "India has shown great resolve and courage in the face of extremist threats."

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow