Cracker powder used in Agra blast, motive unclear

The motive behind the attack, which injured at least six people, is yet unclear.

Agra: The low-intensity blast at a private hospital here on Saturday evening was triggered by a mixture normally used in firecrackers, along with a crude Improvised Explosive Device (IED), police said on Sunday. However, the motive behind the attack, which injured at least six people, is yet unclear.

"Investigations reveal potassium chlorate, charcoal and sulphur, whose mixture is normally used in crackers, were used as the explosive. Cylindrical iron rods were used as the container for the explosive, that was tied with the crude IED," Special Director General of Police Brij Lal told reporters.

"With the nature of injuries caused, it appears the entire set-up was locally prepared. Six batteries of nine volt each were used. They were connected in series with some filament placed in the explosive. The blast took place due to the heating effect in the filament. We have found no traces of a timer in the blast," he added.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (Agra) Asim Arun said: "We are yet to establish the motive behind the blast."

However, an Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officer at the blast site said it was "highly unlikely" that the blast had any terror link.

"I am of this view for the two reasons. First, no iron nails or glass pieces -- normally mixed by the terrorists with the explosive for enhancing the blast`s impact -- were used. Secondly, the blast took place at a private area, and not a crowded public place," the officer said, preferring anonymity.

According to police sources, the state police in their report sent to the Union Home Ministry late Saturday said they were trying to ascertain whether the blast was a terror strike or due to some business rivalry, as there were a number of private hospitals near Jai Hospital, where the blast took place.

Uttar Pradesh Panchayati Raj Minister Swami Prasad Maurya and Union Minister of State for Home Bhanwar Jitendra Singh inspected the blast site on Sunday.

"A compensation of Rs 50,000 will be provided to all the injured from the Prime Minister`s Relief Fund," Singh told reporters.

Maurya added: "Chief Minister Mayawati has declared a compensation of Rs 1 lakh per injured. She has given special instructions to take stern action against all those behind the blast."

Asked whether the blast had any terror angle, Singh replied: "Prima facie, it is low intensity blast involving a crude bomb...It`s difficult to say anything with confirmation in this regard till we get all the reports of the investigating agencies."

"Our Prime Minister and Home Minister want an extensive probe into the case. It should also be investigated whether the Agra blast could be linked with other blasts," Singh said.

Uttar Pradesh Police also announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for any information on those involved in the blast.

AK Mishra, the Hari Parwat police station chief, said: "No one has been detained in connection with the blast."

"Two of the four injured have been discharged from hospital," he added.

The explosion took place around 5.30 pm at the reception area of Jai Hospital, situated on a service lane of National Highway-2, barely 2.5 km from the Taj Mahal, a declared terror target which is frequented by thousands of domestic and foreign tourists every day.

Security at the 17th century Taj Mahal and other places has been beefed up.

In New Delhi, Union Home Secretary Raj Kumar Singh on Saturday said reports indicated wires and battery parts were found at the blast spot.


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