AHMADABAD, India - Authorities scoured a western Indian city Sunday for those responsible for a series of bomb explosions that killed at least 45 people, rounding up 30 people as a little-known group claimed responsibility for the attack.
State government spokesman Jaynarayan Vyas also said that 161 people had been wounded when at least 16 bombs went off Saturday evening in several crowded neighborhoods of Ahmadabad — a historic city that in 2002 was the scene of some of the worst rioting between India's Hindu majority and its Muslim minority. The attack came a day after seven smaller blasts killed two people in the southern technology hub of Bangalore.
Another unexploded bomb was found and defused early Sunday, the city's police commissioner, O.P. Mathur, said. He said police had detained 30 people in their investigation.
Cities around the country were put on alert and security was stepped up at markets, hospitals, airports and train stations.
A group calling itself the Indian Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack but offered few details in e-mails sent to several television news stations, the CNN-IBN station reported. The group was unknown before May, when it said it was behind a series of bombings in Jaipur, also in western India, that killed 61 people.
Busy market targeted
In its e-mail Sunday, the group reportedly made no mention of the smaller bombings Friday in Bangalore and it was not clear if the two attacks were connected.
The bombs went off in two separate spates. The first, near a busy market, left some of the dead sprawled beside stands piled high with fruit, next to twisted bicycles. The second group of blasts went off near a hospital.
The side of a bus was blown off and its windows shattered, while another vehicle was engulfed in flames. Most of the blasts took place in the narrow lanes of the older part of Ahmadabad, which is tightly packed with homes and small businesses. Bomb-sniffing dogs scoured the areas.
'Crime against humanity'
Distraught relatives of the victims crowded the city's hospitals. One of the wounded was a 6-year-old boy whose father was killed in the blasts. He lay in a hospital bed with his arms covered in bandages and wounds on his face.
Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat state where Ahmadabad is located, called the blasts "a crime against humanity." He said the bombings appeared to have been masterminded by a group or groups who "are using a similar modus operandi all over the country."
"Anti-national elements have been trying to create panic among the people of our country. Today's blasts in Ahmadabad seem to be part of the same strategy," federal Home Minister Shivraj Patil told reporters in New Delhi