Blasts kill 37 in India graveyard
September 8, 2006
At least 37 people have been killed in bombings at a Muslim graveyard in western India, authorities say.
More than 125 others were hurt in the explosions after Friday prayers in Malegaon. The hospital in the town says 20 of them are in a serious condition.
State police chief PS Pasricha said a curfew had been imposed and police reinforcements sent to the town.
It is not clear what caused the blasts as Muslims left prayers. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has led calls for calm.
No group has said it carried out the blasts in Malegaon, which is in Nashik district about 260km (160 miles) north-east of Maharashtra's state capital, Mumbai.
The blasts come days after Mr Singh told the country there were intelligence warnings of attacks. In July a series of explosions killed more than 180 people in Mumbai.
Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, RR Patil, told journalists there had been three blasts in Malegaon and not two as earlier reported.
The explosions inside the town's main burial ground for Muslims happened on Shab-e-Barat - the day Muslims pray for their dead.
Officers were investigating reports explosives were packed on bicycles.
One witness, Shaiq, told Indian television: "I was finishing my Friday prayers when I heard the explosions... there was chaos everywhere. I saw three or four bodies and blood all over. People were running all over."
A curfew was imposed in many parts of the town, including the area where the blasts had taken place.
Police said the situation was tense but under control. Angry crowds had pelted officers with stones after the blast.
Manmohan Singh was swift to condemn the blasts and has appealed for calm.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil promised the government would deal firmly with the "terrorists" behind the attack.
He said: "The main design is not only to injure and kill innocent people... but to see that different sections of society clash and create more difficulties, more turmoil and more bloody situations."
A home ministry official in Delhi said central security forces, including personnel from the anti-riot Rapid Action Force, were being sent to Malegaon.
US ambassador David Mulford said he was "shocked and saddened by the brutal terrorist bombings" and that the US stood "with India in its fight against terrorism".
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra state, Vilasrao Deshmukh, said 100,000 rupees ($2,100) would be paid in compensation to the families of each of the dead.
Muslim-majority Malegaon, which has a population of about 500,000 and a large community of weavers, is a town with a history of communal rioting.
Earlier this year, the police recovered a large cache of arms and explosives from the area.
In October 2001, violence in protest at the US attacks on Afghanistan left a total of 12 people dead in the town.