Terror struck Mumbai again on Wednesday evening as blasts at three spots killed 21 and injured 141 in the deadliest attack on the commercial capital since 26/11.Low-intensity explosions went off at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Kabutar Khana in Dadar, all densely crowded places during the evening rush hour, between 6.45pm and 7.15pm, Mumbai police said.
There were three simultaneous blasts at Zaveri Bazaar, police said. While two of the bombs were planted in a motorcycle, the third was concealed under an umbrella placed by the roadside.
The bomb at Opera House exploded at the rear gate of Panchratna building, while the one in Dadar went off outside Antonio Da Silva High School opposite Kabutar Khana.
Twelve persons were killed at Zaveri Bazaar, and nine at Opera House. There were no deaths in Dadar, though eight persons were injured.
While Zaveri Bazaar, attacked twice earlier (in 1993 and 2003), is a traders’ market populated mainly by Gujaratis and Kutchis, Panchratna houses the diamond market and jewellery shops. Kabutar Khana is in the heart of the middle-class Maharashtrian hub of Dadar but has a substantial Gujarati crowd owing to the wholesale market there.
Wednesday’s explosions came two days after the fifth anniversary of the serial train blasts and a day after two Indian Mujahideen men were picked up by Mumbai police.
Though no terror outfit had taken responsibility for the blasts till the time of going to press, Union home ministry officials suspect the hand of the Indian Mujahideen-Lashkar-e-Taiba combine.
Union home minister P Chidambaram called the serial blasts “a coordinated attack by terrorists,” while chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said it was “another attack on the heart of India.”
Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik said they did not know whom to suspect. Forensic experts said the main explosive substance used in all the bombs was ammonium nitrate, with RDX as a booster."Shrapnel were packed in the bombs to injure the maximum number of people," one of the forensic experts who examined the blast spots said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Azgha Kanchwala, an eyewitness at Opera House, said, “It was a horrendous sight. There was blood strewn all over.”
CCTV cameras installed at Zaveri Bazar, the worst hit of the three places, were destroyed because of the explosion.
A team of NSG experts arrived in the city late in the night to assist investigators. The Centre has also despatched teams of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to help Mumbai police in the probe.
The injured have been taken to various hospitals across the city, authorities said. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said the death toll could go up as the city’s hospitals were facing a shortage of blood.