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Thursday, February 21, 2013

DILSUKH NAGAR ROCKED 20 Dead, 84 Injured in Two Hyderabad Blasts

Bombs were planted in the same area on Aug 25, 2007, but did not go off; Shinde refuses to speculate about who could be responsible for bombings

    Bomb explosions killed at least 20 people and injured 84 in Hyderabad on Thursday evening, breaking a nearly 18-month spell in which no major Indian city was subjected to a terrorist attack. The two blasts in a crowded area of the city also mark the return of terror to Andhra Pradesh's capital after 2007, when 51 people were killed in attacks three months apart. 
Initial information suggested that the explosives were strapped to bicycles placed near busy movie halls and eateries in the Dilsukh Nagar area. Home ministry officials said that bombs were also planted in the same area on August 25, 2007, but did not go off. Forty people were killed that day in other nearby parts of the city in an attack blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Indian Mujahideen. 
The terror strike on the day the budget session of parliament commenced presents a severe test for Sushil Kumar Shinde, who took over as home minister from P Chidambaram less than seven months ago. Shinde has sought to portray an uncompromising stand against terrorism by overseeing the execution of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru, men who were convicted of the 2008 Mumbai attack and the 2001 attack on parliament, respectively. The last major strike on an Indian city was the September 2011 attack in Delhi when the high court complex was targeted, killing 13 people. 
On Thursday Shinde said that the intelligence agencies had an inkling of possible terror strikes two days ago and had shared this information with all state governments. "We did not have specific information that blasts will take place in Hyderabad; we had information of blasts anywhere in the country." Asked how an attack could take place despite an alert being issued, he said that it is only after a thorough investigation that all facts can be ascertained. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the attack as 
"dastardly" and promised that the guilty would not go unpunished. While Shinde refused to speculate about who could be responsible for the bombings, sources in the intelligence apparatus believe that the Indian Mujahideen, acting in concert with and at the behest of LeT, is the likely suspect. It is seen as having network of sleeper cells and sympathisers in Andhra Pradesh, particularly Hyderabad. 
Officials said the centre has information that a key Indian Mujahideen operative arrested by the Delhi police recently confessed to have conducted a recce of Dilsukh Nagar on a motorcycle last year. Moreover, intelligence inputs over the last two days had pointed to sleeper cells of Indian 
Mujahideen becoming active again and a specific input of a threat to six major metros, including Hyderabad, was sent out by the Intelligence Bureau on Thursday morning. Officials also admit a lack of coordination between the home ministry and the Andhra government over the input from the Intelligence Bureau. Shinde said the centre had given information about an impending terror attack on a few cities, but he was not sure if Hyderabad was among them. He refused to blame the Andhra Pradesh government for not acting on the input. 
For Andhra, the bombing is a further blow to a state which has been struggling with political instability after the death of chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter accident in 2009. The ruling Congress has been split by 
Reddy's son Jagan, the agitation for a separate state of Telangana has flared up, and a severe power crisis has badly affected India's fourth-largest economy. 
Industrialists based in the city said for all their cruelty, the bombings are unlikely to have any substantial impact on business activity. Investor confidence will be shaken, but only for some time, said JA Chowdhary, co-chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Suchitra Ella, chairperson of the Confederation of Indian Industry in AP, was also of the opinion that such attacks will temporarily affect business confidence but "vibrant cities like Hyderabad that are driven by business and commerce will bounce back quickly."


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