By Kurt Achin
Senior Indian national security officials are turning their full attention to the country’s financial capital, Mumbai, where three bomb blasts have killed at least 21 people and injured more than a hundred others. The blasts are the latest in a series of terrorist attacks that have hit the city in recent years.
The three explosions occurred within 20 minutes of each other in three separate, crowded parts of Mumbai at a busy time of the day, between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., local time.
No one has claimed responsibility, but Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram says the government is assuming the blasts were “a coordinated terror attack” because of their close timing. “The entire city of Mumbai has been put on high alert. I would appeal to the people of Mumbai, and people all over the country, to remain calm, and maintain peace,” he said.
Police believe the explosions were caused by improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
In two of the explosions, near Mumbai’s Opera House and in Dadar, in the center of the city, the devices were fastened to motor vehicles.
Senior Mumbai police official Madhukar Samant described the third explosion, in Zaveri Bazaar, to reporters. He says the explosion in Zaveri Bazaar took place on top of an electrical metering box above a billboard.
Mumbai was the target of other so-called “serial bombings” in 1993, and aboard a train in 2006. In the city’s most notorious terrorist attack — which took place in November 2008 and is known here simply as “26/11”, gunmen killed 166 people at hotels and other attractions.
Milind Deora, an Indian lawmaker representing South Mumbai, told reporters that Mumbai’s residents need to control their emotions. “The message I would like to give to the people through you is the same that I gave right after 26/11. People should be calm, refrain from rumor-mongering. Avoid any messages or, kind of, sentiments of communal disharmony,” he said.
The White House issued a statement just a few hours after the Mumbai explosions, condemning what it called “the outrageous attacks” and pledging “support to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice.”