Mumbai: Country’s financial capital Mumbai was on Wednesday shaken by three powerful explosions, within minutes of each other, killing at least 18 people and injuring over 100 others in a grim reminder of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attack.
The explosions took place at Dadar, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House.
The first explosion rocked Zaveri Bazar, a popular jewellery market, at 6.54 pm and a minute later another blast shook Diamond Market near Opera House, a busy business area. The third blast ripped through crowded Kabutarkhana area in Dadar area at 7.04 pm.
Reacting to the incident, Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram said the quick succession of the blasts showed that they were a "coordinated attack by terrorists."
He assured that all measures have been taken in the wake of the explosions in India’s commercial capital. The Home Minister, who reached Mumbai late night, also called for restraint and asked people not to panic.
“A National Security guard (NSG) hub is already in Mumbai. It has been put on high alert," he said. One Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL) team from Delhi and another one from Hyderabad are in the city to assist the Mumbai Police in the investigations.
UK Bansal, Secretary (Internal Security) told Zee News that NSG is on alert and its bomb-experts are helping the local police. “We have ensured Maharashtra police of all the help as and when they require,” he said.
The terror strike, which revived memories of the Mumbai attack that left 166 dead, coincided with the 24th birthday of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman in the carnage. Kasab has been sentenced to death.
No terrorist group so far has claimed responsibility but Mumbai police suspects the hand of Indian Mujahideen (IM). Sources also claimed that at least seven Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were used in the blasts, which were triggered using mobile phones.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik said the blasts at Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar were of higher intensity than the one at Dadar.
"It is a terror act. It is quite obvious that some terror elements are involved in the attack. Zaveri Bazaar blast was carried out with use of IED kept in an abandoned umbrella," Patnaik said.
All the injured have been admitted to nearby St Georges hospital, KEM Hospital, Saifee and JJ Hospitals with critical burn injuries.
The explosions struck the metropolis two days after the fifth anniversary of the serial train blasts here that had left 186 dead and 800 injured.
While the blast in Zaveri Bazaar was triggered through explosives concealed in an umbrella, the one in Dadar West was caused by an explosive device planted inside a Maruti Esteem car.
“The umbrella was apparently used to camouflage the explosive during the downpour being witnessed in the city, in the bustling Khau Gali in Zaveri Bazaar,” added Police
Commissioner Arup Patnaik.
Police teams and fire brigades were immediately rushed to blasts sites, which were cordoned off for investigations. Teams of Maharashtra ATS were also rushed to the site along with dog squads.
The Ministry of Home Affairs also confirmed that IED were used in the serial blasts.
One more unexploded device was recovered from Dadar. According to the ACP, the police are probing a suspicious Tiffin box found near the blast site.
The Prime Minister also spoke with Maharashtra CM Chavan and Home Secretary discussed the situation with Mumbai DGP.
Following the blasts, a high alert has been sounded in major cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad and precautionary security measures are being taken by the local administration.
Mumbai police has issued two helpline numbers 022-22621983, 022-22625020 for more information related to blasts.