SLUG: 2-306814 Bombay Bombings (L)
TITLE=INDIA / BOMBAY BOMBINGS (L)
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INTRO: Two powerful car bombs have killed at least 40 people and injured more than 100 others in Bombay. The Indian city has been the scene of several bombings in recent months, which police have blamed on Islamic militants. V-O-A's Sonja Pace reports from New Delhi.
TEXT: The first bomb exploded at a crowded marketplace in southern Bombay in the busy early afternoon. A short time later a second powerful explosion occurred nearby in the heart of the Bombay's commercial center, near the "Gateway of India" landmark, a favorite tourist site.
Police are describing the blasts as car bombs.
Television pictures showed gruesome scenes, pieces of clothing strewn amid pools of blood on the street, charred remains of cars blown apart at the site, and shattered glass from windows blown out in nearby buildings.
Sushilkumar Shinde, Chief Minister of Maharashtra State, appealed for calm.
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The minister warned people against listening to rumors. He said two explosions occurred, not four as had been reported earlier. Mr. Shinde also said the police were doing all they could to ensure security.
People in Bombay are edgy. The city has been hit by several bombings in the past eight months. The most recent previous attack occurred in late July, when a bomb exploded on a crowded passenger bus. In March, 11 people were killed in a bomb blast on a passenger train.
Police have, in the past, blamed Islamic militants with ties to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group for the attacks. Lashkar-e-Taiba is waging a separatist guerrilla campaign in the disputed area of Kashmir.
Pakistan quickly condemned the explosions, calling them acts of terror.
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Masood Khan, Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman:
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We deplore these attacks and we sympathize with the victims and their families. Civilians have been targeted, according to the reports that we have seen. We condemn all acts of terrorism and I think that such wanton targeting of civilians should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
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The bombings occurred the same day as the release of a controversial report by Indian archeologists that says there is evidence of an ancient Hindu temple under the ruins of a 16th century mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya.
In 1992, Hindu mobs destroyed the Babri mosque, claiming it was built on the remains of an earlier Hindu temple. The incident triggered massive nationwide riots in which more than two-thousand people were killed. (SIGNED)
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