Home minister P Chidambaram termed the serial blasts in Mumbai on Wednesday a “coordinated attack by terrorists”.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the blasts at the time of going to press, home ministry officials suspect the hand of the Indian Mujahideen-Lashkar-e-Taiba combine.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan after the attack. Sources in the prime minister’s office said Singh had asked Chidambaram to keep him posted.
The Centre despatched forensic and bomb experts in a special plane to Mumbai within hours of the blasts. Chidambaram said teams of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory from Delhi and Hyderabad were being sent to Mumbai.
A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team will also leave for Mumbai shortly. An NIA team already in Mumbai for another investigation has been instructed to associate itself with the Mumbai Police.
The National Security Guard, which has a hub in Mumbai, is on standby and the city has been put on high alert, the home minister added.
Condemning the act of terror, Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressed sympathy for the affected families and appealed to people to remain vigilant and united against terrorist elements.
Also condemning the blasts, US president Barrack Obama said India was a close friend and the US would help it bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice,” Obama said.
"During my trip to Mumbai, I saw the strength and resilience of the Indian people, and I have no doubt that the India will overcome these deplorable terrorist attacks," he said.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and the government and people of Pakistan condemned the blasts and expressed distress on the loss of lives, a statement from the Pakistani government said.
Chidambaram, who was expected to leave for Mumbai later in the night, appealed for calm and called for measures to step up security in Mumbai and elsewhere.
On their part, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Vice-President Hamid Ansari condemned the blasts.