The two bombs were hidden in the trunks of taxis and exploded
within five minutes of each other, the city's police commissioner R.
S. Sharma said, according to the Press Trust of India (news
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, which
came the same day as the release of a long-anticipated
archaeological report on a religious site in northern India claimed
by both Hindus and Muslims. The dispute has been linked to previous
Telephone lines were jammed and mobile phone services briefly
crashed as panicked residents called family and friends.
Police issued security alerts for Bombay and India's capital, New
Delhi, calling policemen back from leave in case of further trouble.
The bombings killed at least 40 people and wounded 150 others,
said Javed Ahmed, a police commissioner for Bombay. "Blasts in a
crowded place in Bombay are aimed at creating terror," he said.
Asked if the explosions could have been to avenge killings last
year in the western state of Gujarat violence sparked by reaction
to the disputed religious site Ahmed said: "It could be that."
One explosion was at the Gateway of India, a famous seaside
landmark and tourist attraction built by India's former British
colonizers to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George V, Ahmed
The other bomb rocked the Zaveri Bazaar, a crowded market of
jewelry stores, said a police official who asked not to be
identified. Both spots are in southern Bombay. Police said earlier
reports of four explosions had been wrong.
Stock prices fell quickly following the blast reports. The
benchmark index of Bombay Stock Exchange, the Sensex, closed at
4,005, down 119 points or 3 percent.
Nuclear rival Pakistan, with whom India has engaged in decades of
bloodshed, condemned the attacks. The neighbors have fought three
wars two over the divided region of Kashmir (news
sites) and nearly started a fourth last December. New Delhi
accuses Pakistan of supporting militants, which Islamabad denies.
"We deplore these attacks and we sympathize with the victims and
their families. Civilians have been targeted according to the news
reports we have been hearing and we condemn all acts of terrorism,"
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said. "I think that
such wanton targeting of civilians should be condemned in the
strongest possible terms."
The carnage shocked even to those accustomed to bloodshed.
"I have never seen anything so horrible," said S. Manoj, a doctor
at Bombay's J.J. Hospital, describing a scene of "body parts" and
burnt corpses. The parts were placed on stretchers, covered with
blood-smeared white sheets and wheeled to the mortuary.
Manoj said some of the injured had been trampled in stampedes
after the explosions, and came in with multiple broken bones.
The explosions terrified Bombay residents.
"The building we were in shook and we heard a loud noise," said
Ingrid Alva, a public relations consultant who works near the
gateway. "I rushed out and saw the crowds at the Gateway of India
... We saw some body parts lying around, before we were told to move
away by the police."
The blast broke windows at the Taj Mahal Hotel, which is across
the street from the gateway, and damaged cars in the parking lot,
said Ravi Dubey, the hotel's communications manager.
The explosions came just hours after the release of the
archaeological report on the disputed religious site in the northern
town of Ayodhya. The site has sparked violence before.
In March, a bomb attack on a Bombay train, which police blamed on
Islamic militants, killed 11 people and wounded 64 others. That
explosion came a day after the 10th anniversary of a series of
bombings in Bombay also blamed on Islamic militants which killed
more than 250 people and injured 1,000.
Police say the bombings were in retaliation for the 1992
destruction by Hindus mobs of the Ayodhya mosque, and to avenge
Muslim deaths in riots that followed.
A Hindu mob tore down the 16th-century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in
1992, claiming Muslims had built it after razing a Hindu temple
marking the birthplace of Rama. The mosque's destruction ignited
religious riots that killed 2,000 people across India, a
predominantly Hindu country of more than 1 billion people, with the
world's largest Muslim minority of 140 million.
Hindus want to build a new temple on the disputed grounds near
Ayodhya, 310 miles southeast of New Delhi. Muslims demand the land
be returned to them so they can build a new mosque.
The report, issued by the government archaeological agency
Monday, indicated there had been some sort of ancient structure at
the site, lawyers for both sides said, though they disagreed on
whether it said there had actually been a temple.
The report was released to lawyers and has not been made
available to the public or the media.