Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World News in Audio


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Low Graphics

Help

Site Map

Sunday, February 15, 1998 Published at 12:23 GMT



World

Violence mars India's election run-up
image: [ The death toll in Coimbatore has risen to 46 following Saturday's serial bombings ]
The death toll in Coimbatore has risen to 46 following Saturday's serial bombings


BBC Delhi correspondent Mike Wooldridge: "BJP leader almost certainly the target" (2'11")
The Indian authorities have arrested 20 people as the death toll from Saturday's bomb attacks in the southern city of Coimbatore rises to 47.

More than 200 people were injured when 17 separate explosions tore through the heart of the old textile town.

The blasts came in the run-up to India's general elections, which start on Monday, and sparked rioting between Hindu and Muslim mobs.

Troops were rushed to the city in the state of Tamil Nadu with orders to shoot rioters on sight. Gatherings of more than five people have been banned.

On Sunday Tamil Nadu police conducted a series of raids on houses in the centre of Coimbatore.

In one raid six suspected Muslim militants were killed when a bomb they were about to hurl at police blew up.

BJP leader the likely target

The bombs exploded shortly before L K Advani, the president of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was due to address a rally on the last day of campaigning in the state before parliamentary elections.

The BJP is widely perceived as anti-Muslim although it has tried to soften its image and has appealed to Muslim voters for support.

Most of the devices had been placed in cars.

The bombs, including one near the site of rally, went off in the middle of the afternoon. The locations included a government hospital, railway station, town hall and near a bus station.

Saved by late arrival


[ image: The textile town of Coimbatore is in Tamil Nadu state.]
The textile town of Coimbatore is in Tamil Nadu state.
Mr Advani escaped injury because he was behind schedule and arrived in Coimbatore after the explosions.

The BJP leader said he was the target of the blasts.

He said: "The first blast took place barely 200 feet from the stage. It is only because I reached Coimbatore late that I was not present at the spot.

"Had the meeting started at the scheduled time, the consequences would have been unimaginable."

Muslim radicals suspected


[ image: LK Advani was saved by arriving late for his rally]
LK Advani was saved by arriving late for his rally
No-one has admitted responsibility for the violence but more than 500 people have been detained across Tamil Nadu since the bombings, including the leaders of the Al-Umma and the All-India Jihad Committee.

Both are Muslim organisations which have been declared illegal by the state government.

Designed to disrupt elections

The Indian President, KR Narayanan, condemned the bombings which came two days before polling begins.

He said: "The blasts are clearly an attempt to disrupt the election process which has been proceeding largely in a peaceful manner."

The BJP has forged an alliance with the southern regional party All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIDMK) in Tamil Nadu for the elections.

Campaigning ended on Saturday in 222 of the parliamentary seats for which voting will take place on Monday. A total of 545 seats is at stake.

The latest opinion polls show the BJP well ahead but short of the support needed to form a majority in parliament.
 





Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

©

Link to BBC Homepage

  Relevant Stories

13 Feb 98 | Special Report
Indian election briefing

14 Feb 98 | World
Indian politician murdered in Assam

13 Feb 98 | Special Report
Causes of the election

12 Feb 98 | Special Report
BJP - riding the wave of Hindu nationalism

12 Feb 98 | Despatches
India addresses election apathy

 
  Internet Links

India Votes - election site

BJP


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
 
In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named





World Contents

Middle East
Africa
Europe
Americas
South Asia
From Our Own Correspondent
Letter From America
Asia-Pacific