Bomb blasts kill 21 in Mumbai

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The centre of the Indian city of Mumbai was today rocked by a series of explosions during the city’s rush hour, killing 21 and injuring many more.  According to reports in the Indian media, 141 casualties have been taken to the city’s hospitals.  Many of the casualties are gravely injured.

The three explosions in busy city streets were timed to cause the maximum destruction and disruption possible.  The first bomb went off in a crowded bazaar at 6.50pm local time, the second minutes later in a district noted for its diamond and gold shops, and the third went off went off very shortly afterwards in a prosperous residential district of the city, an area which is home to a large Hindu Gujarati speaking population.

Speaking to reporters, the Indian Home Minister Mr Palaniappan Chidambaram said that because of the timing of the explosions the authorities believed they were dealing with a co-ordinated attack by terrorists.  

The Home Minister added that the city’s security and police services had been put on a state of high alert and that an Indian Army commando team was on standby in case the bombings were a prelude to another attack similar to that of November 2008 when 10 Islamic militants based in Pakistan attacked a number of buildings in Mumbai’s financial district and city centre, killing 166 people.

Privately, Indian authorities suspect that the organisation Indian Mujahideen is most likely to bear responsibilty for the explosions.  The organisation was set up to avenge the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in intercommunal violence in the neighbouring Indian state of Gujarat.  However in an attempt to calm potential sectarian strife, officials were being careful not to name any group of organisation in public.

Famous as the centre of the Indian film industry and home to more than 12 million people, the city is the largest in India and one of the most densely inhabited cities in the world.  Its cosmopolitan population contains communities from all over India.  Fuelling speculation that Indian Mujahideen was behind Wednesday’s bombing was the fact that the city’s Gujarati population appeared to have been the target of the attack.