60 killed, 150 hurt in Jaipur serial blasts

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Jaipur, May 13 (UNI) Terrorists struck in the Pink City for the first time this evening, triggering a series of seven powerful blasts in a span of 12 minutes in crowded markets and near religious places, killing at least 60 people and injuring nearly 150 others.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was in Jodhpur, rushed back to the capital and said that according to information given to her, 60 people had died and 150 had been wounded in the serial blasts that took place in the walled city.

Apart from the SMS Hospital, where most of the injured were taken, arrangements for treatment of the victims were also made at the Santokhba Durlabhji Hospital and Sanganeri Gate Mahila Hospital, state Health Minister Narpat Singh Rajvi said.

According to police sources, the blasts occurred at seven places while a live bomb was defused at one place. The blasts occurred between 1935 hrs and 1947 hrs near religious places in Chandpol, Hawamahal, Sanganeri Gate, near City Kotwali, Maniharon Ka Rasta, Manak Chowk Khanda and LMB Hotel Johri Bazar areas.

At least three blasts took place near religious places where a large numbers of devotees were present to offer obeisance in the evening.

The nature of the bombs and explosives could not be ascertained immediately.

Most of the bombs were planted in vehicles, including cars, autorickshaws and cycle-rickshaws.

The state government announced a relief of Rs five lakh to the next of kin of each of those killed, Rs one lakh for those critically wounded and Rs 25,000 for the other injured.

In Delhi, intelligence sources said Bangladesh-based militant organisation HUJI was suspected to be behind the Jaipur serial blasts.

They said HUJI had reportedly penetrated the Indian hinterland and had sleeper cells in many towns and cities.

President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh denounced the blasts, terming them as reprehensible, and expressed grief at the huge loss of lives.

While deploring the blasts, Ms Patil requested people to maintain peace and harmony.

Dr Singh assured full support to the Rajasthan government and assistance to the affected families. He also spoke to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the telephone and offered all possible assistance in probing the explosions.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who was on a visit to the North East, rushed back to the national capital tonight in the wake of the serial blasts.

Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi denounced the blasts and condoled the tragic loss of lives, calling it a crime against humanity.

The BJP said the spurt in terror attacks was a direct fallout of ''a weak Prime Minister and a cowardly Home Minister''.

The United States also condemned the blasts, saying there could be no justification for such a murderous assault on innocent people.

US Ambassador to India David Mulford, while describing the bombings as ''vicious'', expressed deepest sympathies with the victims' families.

A high alert was sounded and security heightened across various states in the wake of the blasts.

Panic gripped the entire walled city after the blasts and rampage broke out as people started running helter skelter for their homes.

Shopkeepers closed their shutters in panic in the walled city market.

The Rapid Action Force has been deployed at various points in the city as a precautionary measure.

Roads leading to the scenes of the blasts were sealed off and people were advised to stay indoors. There were traffic jams at several points.

It was a gory scene...picking up from first para of DR 78 BLASTS- THIRD LEAD RAJASTHAN TWO JAIPUR.

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