Ahmedabad/New Delhi: A day after India’s IT city Bangalore was hit by nine low-intensity blasts, 17 similar explosions rocked Ahmedabad on Saturday evening, killing 28 people and injuring over 100 others.
All bombs were reportedly planted on bicycles and went off within span of 70 minutes of each other - between 1830 hrs IST and 1940 hrs IST - in various parts of the city.
Most of the blasts were reported from eastern Ahmedabad, in the upper-middle-class dominated areas of Bapu Nagar, Amraiwadi, Sarangpur, Jawahar Nagar, Narol Circle, Sarkhej, Isanpur and Haksar.
Most of these are crowded, congested areas, located within 10 km of each other.
Mapping the explosions
The first bomb exploded at a bus stand Mani Nagar area around 1835 hrs (IST). A black coloured Hero Honda Splendor motorcycle was found abandoned near the blast site in Mani Nagar, which is also the constituency of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
There was a second blast, also in Mani Nagar, inside the premises of LG Hospital. The bomb was reportedly placed under a red car, which caught fire as the bomb went off.
There was another blast in the premises of Vadilal Sarabhai Hospital.
Two blasts were reported soon after from Sarkhej. While the first was in a city transport bus, the other was reported from Sangam theatre.
Immediately after there were two blasts in Bapu Nagar - one outside the railway station, the other inside a bus.
Some of the blasts took place in communally sensitive areas of the city, apparently aimed at creating panic but not really at causing causalities.
Gujarat on alert
The civic authorities immediately suspended the services all state-run transport buses plying in the city. Mangled remains of a bus, cycles and motorcycles and splattered blood were seen at the site of the blasts.
Gujarat has been put on high alert and security has been heightened across the state, particularly in state capital Gandhinagar.
Special police teams have been deployed at vulnerable places, Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah told journalists.
Initial intelligence inputs suggest a couple of bombs were reported to have been placed in tiffin boxes, in a modus operandi similar to the explosions outside a Lucknow court last year.
The scene outside civil hospital was chaotic with people thronging the hospital even as ambulances with sirens were seen driving between them.
Forensic personnel could be seen scurrying through the blasts' scenes even as policemen tried to maintain a cordon.
Minutes before the blasts, the Intelligence Bureau and various media houses received an e-mail from a little known group that called itself the Indian Mujahideen, warning of a possible attack.
This is the same "outfit" that claimed reponsibility for the blasts in Uttar Pradesh in 2007 and the Jaipur blasts in May 2008.
The group had e-mailed video clips to two Delhi-based media organisations of a bicycle which it said was purportedly packed with explosives used in the blasts.
Investigators say the Indian Mujahideen could be a home-grown terrorist outfit that could be aided by foreign hands.
Reactions, condemnations pour in
Union Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal said, "The blasts seem to be along the lines of yesterdays Bangalore blasts. It is a conspiracy to unsettle the country. All metros are on a high alert. Coordinator of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights Father Cederic Prakash also appealed for calm.
"I sympathise with those affected. Every single member of civil society should maintain peace and communal harmony," Prakash says.
The serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad come just a day after a series of blasts rocked Karanataka capital Bangalore. In Bangalore, too, nine low-intensity blasts had taken place on Friday afternoon killing two people and injuring six others.