Mumbai attacked again as 20 die in three blasts

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The spectre of terrorism returned to India's financial centre yesterday, as three explosions struck Mumbai within a matter of minutes, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 100.

Officials declined to say which group might be responsible.

In the first attacks in Mumbai since November 2008, when Pakistan-based militants stormed ashore and laid siege to parts of the city for almost three days, killing more than 160 people, the explosions targeted crowded areas at evening rush hour. The blasts, described as improvised explosive devices, all occurred between 6.50pm and 7.04pm.

Images from the scene showed streets slick with blood, people suffering ugly injuries and corpses under plastic sheets. The injured were ferried to hospitals in any available vehicle. Doctors called for blood donations and armed police cordoned off those areas struck by the blasts. Last night, with cities across India on alert, the country's home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, said the authorities had no information about further attacks. "I would appeal to the people of Mumbai and people all over the country to remain calm and to remain peaceful. There is no information [regarding] any other bomb or threat," he said. He added that because of the timing of the blasts, "we infer that this was a coordinated attack by terrorists".

Local media were already speculating that the blasts were the work either of either Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Indian Mujahideen, a homegrown militant organisation that has carried out attacks elsewhere in India.

Some reports said that yesterday was the birthday of Ajmal Kasab, who is the sole survivor of the 10 militants who carried out the 2008 attacks.

Speaking on television, the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, said: "It is another attack on the heart of India; an attack on Mumbai."