Terrorists kill two Britons in hotel bombing

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The Independent Online
Viscount Weymouth, son and heir to the Marquess of Bath, was injured and his girlfriend and business partner both killed in a terrorist bomb attack on a New Delhi tourist hotel which left 17 dead.

The bomb, which exploded on Saturday night, was planted by Sikh and Kashmiri separatists. The young Viscount, 21, heir to the pounds 150m Longleat estate was in hospital yesterday with minor head injuries.

The Viscount's girlfriend, Scarlet Kirby, and Crinan Wilde, a business associate, both thought to be in their mid-20s, were killed in the explosion which ripped through the low-budget Arjuna guest house near the city's main railway station. The hostel was popular with international back-packing travellers in the region.

The trio had spent most of the winter months in India helping with the creation of a new ski resort in Manali in the Himalayas. Last night Lord Bath, regarded as one of Britain's most colourful aristocrats due to his hippy appearance and lifestyle and the controversy he created by painting sexually explicit frescos at Longleat, said he was "devastated" by the deaths. He said he was hoping to get his son back to home to England as soon as possible.

"I feel the right solution is to bring him home," he said . Lord Bath said he telephoned the Viscount, called Caewlin Thynn, yesterday morning. "Caewlin is understandably shocked. He was in the building that was blown up. He is all right at the moment, not seriously injured, but he has a tragedy on his hands."

When the Marquess initially spoke to his son, the authorities in India had not yet broken the news to him that his girlfriend and business friend had been killed. "They were all great friends and extremely fond of each other," said the Marquess.

The two dead Britons died as the building collapsed following the explosion which came from a 25kg device. Travellers from France, Nigeria and Holland also died in the explosion. The bomb is part of the campaign by the separatists to disrupt forthcoming elections in Kashmir.

Witness who saw the explosion said the four-storey hotel had simply collapsed. Communiques sent to local newspapers in Kashmir said two previously unknown groups had claimed responsibility. One message said: "This is a first gift to India for conducting polls in Kashmir." The separatists' conflict with India is now in its sixth year and has involved the kidnapping of foreigners, including Britons and Americans. Police have so far arrested six Kashmiri militants in the New Delhi area in connection with the explosion.

Last night the Viscount's sister, Lenka, was trying to arrange a flight to be with her brother. "My brother is OK physically, but not emotionally," she said. Before he left for India, Viscount Weymouth had been studying economics and philosophy at University College, London. As a teenager he attended one of the country's top public schools, Bedales in Wiltshire. He was expelled from the school when he was 17 for smoking cannabis.

More concerned with his son's immediate health and plans to get him home, the Marquess said last night that he had no idea if his son would be returning to his academic studies or whether the ski and business venture would continue.

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