India Bomb Blasts Kill More Than 40, Dozens Critically Injured, Pakistan Reacts

By T.C. Malhotra | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

New Delhi ( - Several countries including Britain and Pakistan strongly condemned bomb blasts in Mumbai on Monday that killed more than 40 people and injured more than 150.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw telephoned Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha on Monday evening local time and conveyed his country''s sympathies with the families of those killed in the attacks.

According to an External Affairs Ministry spokesman, Straw said Britain was ready to provide any assistance that India needed to deal with the situation.

India''s Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani described the Mumbai blasts as an alarming development, but asserted that only a full investigation would bring out the facts.

The blasts took place Monday afternoon at the crowded Gateway of India, Mumbadevi and Zaveri Bazaar areas of Indian financial capital, Mumbai, also known as Bombay.

It was not immediately clear who planted the bombs, two of which were concealed in cars.

Police control room officials confirmed 43 people had been killed.

According to City Police Commissioner, R. S. Sharma, the explosions were suspected to be the handiwork of terrorists, but so far no one has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

The first explosion occurred around 1.15 p.m. and the last came 15 minutes later. Over 150 injured have been moved to hospitals. Of those, more than 40 were in critical condition.

Telephone lines were jammed and mobile phone services briefly crashed as panicked residents called family and friends.

Police issued security alerts for Bombay and India''s capital, New Delhi, calling policemen back from leave in case of further trouble.

Army experts have been called in to help in the investigations into the explosions.

Eyewitnesses said the powerful blasts destroyed many vehicles and blew out the windows of several nearby buildings.

Maharashtra Home Minister Rajendra Darda said one bomb was placed inside a taxicab.

"Everyone over here is pretty shaken," an employee of the luxury Taj Mahal Hotel which stands beside the brown sandstone arch that is the Gateway of India, told a news agency

"At least four or five people were injured - their legs and hands bleeding. Two or three guys were unconscious. They were all mainly street peddlers," he said.

"There are remnants of a taxi lying around, such as the front of the taxi and the tires, right in front of the old Taj," he said.

"The front windows of the downstairs restaurants of the Taj are shattered and some of the rooms on top, too - all shattered," he added.

The casualties in Monday''s blasts in Mumbai rank second only to the serial blasts of March 12, 1993, in which more than 250 people were killed and around 1,000 injured in the city.

Those attacks were seen as retaliation for deaths of minority Muslims following Hindu-Muslim riots.

India is a majority Hindu state but also has a large Muslim population. Both communities have a track record of religious riots.

Indian security agencies have long feared a similar reaction following riots in Gujarat state in 2002 in which at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died.

India''s Muslim neighbour, Pakistan, also condemned the bomb blasts. Foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan described them as "acts of terrorism."

"We deplore the attack and sympathise with the victims and their families," Khan told reporters at a weekly briefing in Islamabad.

"Civilians have been targeted in the blasts. We condemn all such attacks. All attacks targeting civilians should be condemned," the spokesman said.

India blames Pakistan for sponsoring militancy in the country, but Islamabad denies the charge.

The incident may effect the improving relations between the two nuclear neighbors.

The relations between India and Pakistan were badly affected after the Indian Parliament was attacked by terrorists in December 2001.

The two countries were close to war following the deadly attack, but due to diplomatic pressure by the United States and western countries; the rivals have initiated friendlier relations in recent months.

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