At least 14 people were killed and dozens injured on Saturday as a series of synchronised bomb blasts rocked some of the busiest market areas of the Indian capital, police said.
“We can now confirm five blasts,” said police spokesman Rajan Bhagat.
The Press Trust of India said a Muslim militant outfit, Indian Mujahideen, had claimed responsibility for the bombings in an e-mail. The group has claimed previous bomb attacks in other Indian cities.
“We can confirm 14 people killed, 40 injured,” Bhagat told AFP.
Television reports put the death toll as high as 18, with more than 70 taken to hospital for treatment.The five blasts included two at Connaught Place — the city’s largest financial, commercial and business centre, and two more at the upmarket shopping district of Greater Kailash.
India’s television network NDTV quoted the email as saying, “In the name of Allah, the Indian Mujahideen has struck back again.”
Delhi Mayor Aarti Mehra appealed for calm as the blasts spread panic through the city.
“We have the strength to face this,” Mehra told reporters.”Please stay calm. People in markets right now should go home. Do not be afraid.” he said. “The police and government agencies are on your side. Delhi’s strength is in its people. We cannot be frightened.”
The first blast went off around 6:30 pm (1300 GMT) on a busy Saturday evening, and the others followed in swift succession.Police at one of the bomb sites in Greater Kailash searched for survivors among a mess of mangled motorcycles and shattered glass from vehicles caught in the blast.
“I was stepping out for a cup of tea when everything turned black in front of me,” said Gulab Singh, an underground train guard. “Then everyone started running.”Joint Delhi Police Commissioner Ajay Kashyap said an unexploded bomb had been found in Connaught Place.
An explosive expert with one of the bomb disposal units said the explosive devices appeared to have been packed with steel ball bearings and nuts and bolts “to cause maximum harm.”
Triple blasts in New Delhi in October 2005, blamed on Pakistan-backed Islamic rebel groups, claimed nearly 70 lives, while a 2001 attack on India’s national parliament complex also blamed on Muslim militants killed 14 people.
Indian Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in July that killed at least 45 people in the western commercial city of Ahmedabad.The Ahmedabad blasts came a day after a series of bombings in the southern high-tech city of Bangalore that killed one person and injured eight.