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2 blasts kill more than 40 in India

August 26, 2007|Henry Chu | Times Staff Writer

NEW DELHI — At least two powerful explosions ripped through the southern Indian high-tech city of Hyderabad on Saturday evening, killing more than 40 people and injuring dozens.

The blasts struck an outdoor laser show and a popular eatery about 7:30 p.m., leaving bodies and pools of blood amid smoking rubble and shattered glass.

"This is a terrorist act," Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state, told reporters. Hyderabad is the state's capital.

It was the second time in about three months that the bustling city, which has become internationally known for its software industry, has been hit by a deadly bombing. In May, about a dozen people were killed in an attack on a mosque where thousands had gathered for Friday prayers. Several more people died in subsequent clashes between police and protesters.

Authorities did not immediately name a suspect in Saturday's blasts, and there was no public claim of responsibility. In previous attacks, suspicion has fallen on Hindu extremists and Islamic groups linked to Pakistan and Bangladesh.

About 40% of Hyderabad's population is Muslim, compared with 13% of India's population as a whole. The city has a history of religious violence.

The explosions Saturday were minutes apart. TV footage showed seats blown to pieces and victims lying amid the damage at the laser show in Lumbini Park, a popular leisure spot. The show, a relatively new attraction, narrates the city's history.

The Reuters news agency said three other explosive devices were found across in the city, two of them in cinemas, and all were defused.

Cities were put on heightened alert across India, which has seen 300 people killed in major bombings in the last 13 months.

In July 2006, coordinated blasts along Mumbai's commuter rail network killed about 200 people, an attack blamed on Kashmiri separatists with suspected links to Pakistan. Two months later, at least 30 people died in a bombing near a mosque in the western city of Malegaon.

And in February, more than 60 passengers were killed in a firebombing of a train linking India and Pakistan. Officials suspect that the attackers were trying to spoil slowly improving relations between the rival nations.

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