An IED exploded outside a busy restaurant in Bengaluru on Sunday night, killing one woman and injuring one other in the central business district of Bengaluru.
Police commissioner MN Reddi described the incident as a "low intensity IED blast" which occurred between 8:30 and 9pm on Church Street, 50 meters from the Hindustan Times office, on a footpath outside a popular restaurant Coconut Grove.
Sniffer dogs inspecting the spot where the blast occurred. (PTI photo)
38-year-old Bhavani Devi, a resident of Mount Road in Chennai, died in the blast. She had come to Bengaluru four days ago to celebrate Christmas with her family and was with her two daughters and eight other family members when the blast occurred.
Doctor Kanchan Sanyal who was treating Devi at Mallya Hospital confirmed to the media that she died of shrapnel wounds to her head. Sanyal said that doctors tried CPR but Devi, who had an open wound, could not be revived as her brain tissue was exposed.
According to officials the group was crossing the road and heading towards Coconut Grove. The device went off just before Devi got to the restaurant.
Ramchandran Shetty, a police officer at the blast site, told Reuters that preliminary investigation suggested it was an improvised explosive device filled with shrapnel.
Police said the device had been placed near a drain behind the Coconut Grove restaurant.
The blast site has been cordoned off and cars parked at the roadside were being towed.
The police have taken the owner and the guard of paan shop nearby, to record their statements.
Rumours of three other blasts in the city have been ruled out as 'mischief' by Director general of Karnataka police L Pachau.
Some police sources said a timer had been found at the blast site, but Pachau neither confirmed nor denied the information, saying forensic teams were looking into it.
According to Reddi there was a "general threat perception in view of the festive season".
"Whatsapp msgs were circulated saying there could be blasts here and there including bus stations. No other blast has been reported in any other part of the city," said Reddi.
A counter-terror official, requesting anonymity, added that the IED looks similar to the ones used in a blast in Uttarakhand's Roorkee district on December 6 near a venue of a Vishva Hindu Parishad meeting and the explosion in Pune outside a police station on July 11. An IED that exploded in a train at Chennai railway station on May 1 also had a similar kind of structure.
“In all the explosions, we have found imprints of a module of outlawed SIMI that has been active since its members escaped from Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa jail in September last year,” the official said.
Minister for law and justice Sadananda Gowda described the incident as "very unfortunate" and requested the locals "not to panic".
Home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the Karnataka chief minister and offered all help to nab the perpetrators.
(With inputs from Rajesh Ahuja)