New Delhi, Sep 14: As the coutry was still heaving a breath of relief after Bangalore serial balsts and Ahemdabad blasts, Delhi was in for a rude awakening. On a saturday evening, when the city was busy relaxing after a stressful week, Indian Mujahideen chose to strike in key market areas of South Delhi.
Three years after the pre-Diwali blasts in the Capital in 2005, the spectre of terrorism cast its shadow over the city again on Saturday, Sep 13 with five bomb blasts triggered off in crowded market areas of Central and South Delhi this evening, leaving at least 30 people dead and over 100 injured. The blasts, which occurred in Karol Bagh, Connaught Place and Greater Kailash areas in close succession, in a space of 40 minutes, between 1800 hrs and 1840 hrs, led to panic in the Capital. Police said three more live bombs found at India Gate, Regal cinema and Central Park were defused.
At 1810 hours, the heavily crowded Ghaffar market area of Karol Bagh was hit by a heavy blast. Police said the explosive was kept near a car. The impact of the blast was so severe that an auto was thrown up several feet.
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Shortly thereafter, the Connaught Place area was hit by two blasts, near the Gopaldas Building and outside gate Number one of Palika Bazar, while two blasts occurred in the Greater Kailash area one after the other.
At least eight persons, including a woman, died in the blasts in Connaught Place while 40 others have been injured, sources said.
The injured have been admitted to various hospitals like Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML), Lady Hardinge Hospital and Jassaram Hospital.
Unconfirmed sources said that eight of the injured admitted in the RML hospital were reported dead and five others in critical condition.
Police said three live bombs were defused in the Central Park, near the Regal Cinema and at India Gate.
Home Minister Shivraj Singh Patil while condemning the blasts, put the toll at 18 with many injured and said these were aimed to bring disharmony and spread communal violence among the people.
Late tonight, sources said at least 25 people were killed in the blasts.
Mr Patil presided over an emergency meeting of security and intelligence officials along with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
In an emergency meeting of the state Cabinet tonight, convened under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the Delhi Government announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs five lakh to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to those injured.
The treatment of those injured will also be free, she said.
She also appealed to the people to remain calm and stand strong and face the situation with calm and fortitude.
A militant outfit named India Mujahideen (IM) claimed responsibility for the blasts. In e-mails sent to some media houses, minutes prior to the first blast, the IM in a message titled ''the Message of Death'', said: ''In the name of Allah, Indian Mujahideen strikes back once more. ... Do whatever you can. Stop us if you can.'' The police said that the mail had originated from Mumbai.
Delhi Police Spokesman Rajan Bhagat said the police had solid evidence and would be able crack the case soon.
Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal visited the blast scene in Connaught Place and also the RML hospital and inquired about the condition of the injured.
Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal who visited the blast scene in Connaught Place, said it was too early to say anything on the culprits. ''We are assessing the situation. Our officials are in the process of collecting information. The guilty will be soon brought to book.'' Police sources said that a child claimed to have seen two ''terrorists'' planting the bombs in a trash bin in Connaught Place.
He will be questioned, they said.
The affected areas have been cordoned off and traffic diverted to alternate routes. There was heavy rush of people at the hospitals, while blood banks had been asked to remain open through the night.
Markets like Kamala Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar and INA markets wore a deserted look, with people leaving for their homes in panic.
Also mobile networks were jammed. However, Delhi Metro was operating its services as normal, though the blast in Gopaldas Bhawan was very close to its Barakhamba road station.
The last major terror attack in Delhi was on October 29, 2005, when 50 people were killed and 70 injured, in three explosions in two busy markets and near a bus stand.