At least 42 dead in Bombay explosions

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The Independent Online

Bombs exploded in a crowded jewelry market and a historical landmark in Bombay on Monday, killing at least 42 people, wounding 150 others and shaking buildings in India's financial capital.

Bombs exploded in a crowded jewelry market and a historical landmark in Bombay on Monday, killing at least 42 people, wounding 150 others and shaking buildings in India's financial capital.

Police said the bombs had been hidden in the trunks of two taxis and exploded within five minutes of each other.

No terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came hours after the release of a long-anticipated archaeological report on a religious site in northern India claimed by both Hindus and Muslims. The dispute has been linked to previous bombings.

Police issued security alerts for Bombay and New Delhi, the Indian capital, after the explosions, calling policemen back from leave in case of further trouble.

One explosion was at the Gateway of India, a famous seaside landmark and tourist attraction built by India's former British colonizers to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George V.

The other bomb rocked the Zaveri Bazaar, a crowded market of jewelry stores. Both spots are in southern Bombay.

Stock prices fell quickly following the blast reports. The benchmark index of Bombay Stock Exchange, the Sensex, closed at 4,005, down 119 points or 3 percent.

Nuclear rival Pakistan, with whom India has engaged in decades of bloodshed, condemned the attacks. The neighbours have fought three wars - two over the divided region of Kashmir - and nearly started a fourth last December. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of supporting militants, which Islamabad denies.

"We deplore these attacks and we sympathize with the victims and their families. Civilians have been targeted according to the news reports we have been hearing and we condemn all acts of terrorism," Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said. "I think that such wanton targeting of civilians should be condemned in the strongest possible terms."

A taxi driver has been detained for questioning by police who suspect a bomb was planted in his taxi, which was parked in the public parking lot at the Gateway of India.

The explosions came just hours after the release of the archaeological report on the religious site in the northern town of Ayodhya.

In March, a bomb attack on a Bombay train, which police blamed on Islamic militants, killed 11 people and wounded 64 others. That explosion came a day after the 10th anniversary of a series of bombings in Bombay - also blamed on Islamic militants - which killed more than 250 people and injured 1,000.

Police say those bombings were in retaliation for the 1992 destruction by Hindus mobs of the 16th-century Ayodhya mosque, and to avenge Muslim deaths in riots that followed. A bloody attack on Hindus who want to build a temple there set off revenge rioting in western Gujarat state that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in early 2002.

Some Hindus claim the mosque was built centuries ago on the ruins of a Hindu temple that marked the birthplace of their supreme god, Rama.

The report, issued by the government archaeological agency, indicated there had been some sort of ancient structure at the site, lawyers for both sides said, though they disagreed on whether it said there had actually been a temple.

The report was released to lawyers and has not been made available to the public or the media.

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