Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bomb Blasts in New Delhi

Three bombs went off today in crowded markets in New Delhi, killing at least 60 people. The city was in the midst of the Diwali celebrations, the largest annual festival in India.

The first explosion was in the Paharganj area outside a jewellery shop. The second, which claimed no fatalities was aboard a bus - passengers noticed a bag and informed the bus operator, who stopped the bus and threw the bag out before it exploded. The third explosion, which claimed the most lives, took place in the busy Sarojini Nagar shopping area.(Video report-BBC)

An offshoot of the Laskhar-e-Toiba, a charter member of the IIF (Islamic International Front) has claimed responsibility. The incidents took place the day after Al Quds Day, the last Friday in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Islamic Militants observe it to condemn the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and Jerusalem - Al Quds is the large mosque in Jerusalem, and the third holiest place in Islam. Numerous incidents are planned for this period and Osama's most recent video message was released on the same day last year.

A US State Department advisory had warned of heightened risk of such incidents earlier this week. New Delhi citizens are used to constant checks and occasional blasts since the Punjab crisis of the 1980s. Constant educational campaigns ask people to inform the police of any strange behavior or bags. These incidents will put a damper on celebrations of Diwali, as well as of Eid-ul-Fitr later next week.

Also in the region, a bomb blast blew up a gas pipeline near Sibi in the Balochistan province of Pakistan earlier today. The earthquake, which was naively hoped to ease miltiant activities, has not had such an effect(Ref: Quake impact on Jihadi terrorism. Recently, the Kashmir minster for education was assassinated at his residence. Earlier in the year, the subway blasts in London killed 55, and then there were the blasts in Bali on October 1,2005 which claimed 25 lives.

These attacks are perceived as more tactical than strategic, intended to assert the continuing ability of the IIF to strike where they please. The strong intelligence network in India, however, is already paying off, with over 22 arrests. These blasts may also be linked to the recent stand taken by India against nuclearization of Iran, in concert with the United States, at the IAEA.

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