New Delhi: At least two people were killed and about 70 injured when five low intensity bomb blasts took place in Agartala on Wednesday evening, police said.
The bombs went off in GB Bazaar, MG Bazaar, Radhanagar Bus Stand and Palace Compound within a span of about 30 minutes.
The first bomb went off at the popular Gol Bazar, followed by two near-simultaneous blasts, one at the GB Market and another at a public bus stand, Tripura police spokesman Nepal Das told a news agency.
"Two people were killed on the spot at Maharajganj Bazar and GB Bazar," Das confirmed.
He said those injured, including a number of women, were rushed to the GB Pant Medical College and Hospital in Agartala.
Four persons, including one allegedly seen on a bike near a blast site, were reportedly arrested in connection with the serial blasts.
Panic spread in Agartala – barely one-and-a-half km from the border with Bangladesh – as three bombs were recovered and defused in the heart of the city later in the evening.
The terror attack came on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr and ahead of the five-day Durga Puja festival beginning on Sunday.
SP of West Agartala KV Sreejesh told CNN-IBN, “All bombs were of low intensity. It was meant to create panic before the puja celebrations. The unexploded bombs have been defused.”
Nabanita Roy, an eyewitness, told IANS, "Two youths on a motorbike left a container in a box at the Radhanagar bus stand. Smoke started coming out of it and soon there was a huge explosion."
The modus operandi was similar to the most recent three low-intensity blasts elsewhere in India – notably in Mehrauli, New Delhi on Saturday and in Modasa, Gujarat and Malegaon in Maharashtra on Monday night.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts so far but according to sources the needle of suspicion is pointing towards the involvement of Bangladesh-based terror group the Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HuJI).
A red alert has been sounded all over the bordering state and the security forces have been asked to maintain a close vigil over the prevailing situation.
Central intelligence agencies had on September 25 warned the northeastern states of an impending terror attack and BSF officials in Agartala confirmed having received the input.
Vice-President condemns the blasts
Vice-President Mohd Hamid Ansari denounced the serial blasts in Agartala saying "such mindless acts of violence" coinciding with the festive season are aimed at disturbing peace and harmony.
He expressed agony and shock at the blasts, and expressed his sympathy for the families of those killed and wounded.