At least 45 people have been killed in the latest terror bombings to hit India. This time the target was Ahmedabad in the northwestern state of Gujarat. Hospitals, markets and busy intersections were targeted. Car bombs were used against hospitals but the majority were much smaller, simpler devices (bags of ammonium nitrate packed with ball bearings), placed in tiffins on bicycles. Seventeen separate blasts have been recorded and police continue to defuse bombs across the city.
A group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility and sent emails to television channels minutes before the blasts. The Times of India reports:
The targets were selectively chosen, with the focus of attack being chief minister Narendra Modi’s Maninagar assembly constituency. Four blasts took place in this area. Also targeted was VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s cancer hospital in the Bapunagar area as a bombs went off on either side of his hospital. There were two blasts near assembly speaker Ashok Bhatt’s house in Khadia.
The Hindu notes:
The reports pieced together by the police indicated 17 blasts in 10 different areas and all, except the minority-dominated Sarkhej and Juhapura, were in the labour-dominated eastern parts of the old city. Most of the blasts occurred in crowded and congested areas during peak evening hour traffic. About 40 minutes after the first round of blasts, bombs went off near the trauma centre of the civil hospital and the main portico of the L.G. General Hospital in Maninagar, even as the injured were being rushed to the hospitals.
Abdul Halim, an activist of the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), wanted in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was arrested for his alleged connections to the Ahmedabad blasts. Ahmedabad Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia claimed Halim was part of network sending potential terrorists across the border into Pakistan for training.
Regarding SIMI, South Asian Terror Portal describes the organization as:
[A]n Islamist fundamentalist organization, which advocates the ‘liberation of India’ by converting it to an Islamic land. The SIMI, an organisation of young extremist students has declared Jihad against India, the aim of which is to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) by either forcefully converting everyone to Islam or by violence.
More on SIMI from The Hindu:
Gujarat has been a high-priority target for SIMI jihadists and affiliate organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba ever since the 2002 communal pogrom in the State. Most SIMI cadre involved in these operations could never be arrested, raising the prospect that some, or all, are involved in Saturday’s bombings in Ahmedabad.
Maharashtra-based SIMI bomb maker Zulfikar Fayyaz Kagzi, for example, is thought to have built a sophisticated suitcase-bomb planted on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad express train in February 2006. However, an error in the timer circuit resulted in the bomb exploding only 12 hours after the scheduled detonation time, by which time train cleaning staff had deposited the suitcase in an empty corner of the Ahmedabad station.
Fayyaz is known to have caught an Iran Air flight to Tehran on May 9, 2006, and is thought to have escaped across the Zahedan border into Pakistan.
Visual Media via Times of India broadband.