US envoy condemns Pune terror attack

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New Delhi, Feb.14 (ANI): United States Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer has condemned the February 13 bombing at the German Bakery in Pune that killed nine people and injured 50 civilians.

In a statement, Roemer said: "On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend heartfelt sympathy to the Government of India and the victims of this evening's tragic terrorist blast in Pune. The U.S. remains shoulder-to-shoulder with India in the fight against terror and will assist as needed to help bring the perpetrators of this cowardly act to justice."

Roemer's statement came hours after Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram declared the incident as an 'insidious' attack and ruled out intelligence failure.

Chidambaram, who rushed to Pune this morning, said the center had prior information regarding the blast, adding that it is hard to stop attacks of such 'insidious' nature.

Addressing a joint press conference with Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan after meeting the injured persons at the Sasoon hospital here, Chidambaram said the agencies had information regarding 'Chabad' house being on terror radar.

"We knew that the Osho Ashram was also radar. It is an unfortunate incident, an attack on a soft target," Chidambaram said.

"Koregaon Park has been on the radar for some time. Many soft targets need to be monitored," he added.

Giving details about the blast, the Home Minister said that it seems one or more people posed as customers and left the backpack filled with explosives quietly under table.

Chidambaram also said that a team of the newly established National Investigating Agency (NIA) is coming in from New Delhi to assist the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) in its probe.

Speaking on the NIA team's role, he said: "There is no confusion about this; ATS is investigating the case. I wanted the NIA to come so that they can have first hand exposure to a terrorist crime as soon as it's committed. They will only study the matter and assist the ATS but investigation is being done only by the ATS."

"Best police officers have been put on the job and the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) have taken over case," he added.

He also urged the media to avoid speculation, saying it would cause 'confusion.'

When asked about the nature of the blast, Chidambaram said the concerned agencies are investigating the issue and informations would be shared with the media at a suitable time.

"Only when forensic reports come we will share it with you," he added.

Meanwhile, Chavan has announced an ex-gratia compensation of five lakh rupees to the families of those dead in the blast.

All the medical expenditure of injured people would be taken care of by the Maharashtra government, he added.

Home Secretary G K Pillai, however, has said there is no information on foreigners being killed in the German Bakery blast.

Pillai said out of the nine dead, three bodies have been identified but there is no information of any foreign national being killed.

He said four Iranians, two Nepalese, one German and one Sudanese have been injured in the blast. (ANI)

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