Malegaon blasts: Police hunt for clues
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Malegaon blasts: Police hunt for clues

Two days after the blasts that killed 31, police await results of lab tests. Pics

india Updated: Sep 10, 2006 13:59 IST

Police on Sunday awaited laboratory results after scouring bomb blast sites in the tense Malegaon town to try to identify the group behind the attacks that claimed 31 lives.

The attackers mounted bombs on bicycles that exploded as thousands of Muslims emerged from Friday prayers.

Eight children and six women were among the dead from the blasts in the Muslim-majority town that has been the scene of previous communal strife. Nearly half of the 297 wounded were children.

Political leaders said the triple blast was designed to spark violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities and urged calm.

Forensic experts were examining wreckage of the bicycles and explosive residue for clues as to who carried out the blasts.

"Apparently some bicycles have been recovered. What kind of explosives were used ... will be clear after the lab reports come in," said senior district policeman PK Jain.

"Certain articles have been found but there's nothing to suggest who it could be and the identity of the people is unknown."

The blasts came two months after 186 people died when seven blasts ripped through the first-class compartments of trains in Mumbai, 240 kilometres to the south.

Police blamed Islamic terrorists for the attack that was believed to be targeting wealthy Hindu workers.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the Malegaon attack, which came when an estimated 2,500 people had gathered in a square outside the Nurani mosque after Friday prayers for Shab-e-Barat.

But earlier this week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said intelligence agencies had warned of further attacks in the country.

The Mumbai attack came four months after at least 15 people were killed and 60 wounded in three explosions in the holy Hindu city of Varanasi.

Last October 66 people were killed when three blasts ripped through markets in New Delhi on the eve of a major Hindu festival. Those attacks were blamed on Islamic terrorists.

Analysts said it was too early to say who was to blame for the explosions in Malegoan, a mixed Hindu-Muslim town seen as a religious tinderbox.

But Ajai Sahni, an intelligence analyst who tracks terrorist groups in South Asia, said it was unlikely to be any Hindu group because they lacked the organisation for such an attack.

Four months ago, anti-terrorist police seized explosives and guns in Malegaon, some 240 kilometres north of Mumbai, in a swoop on a suspected Islamic terrorist cell.

First Published: Sep 10, 2006 02:54 IST