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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 21:32 GMT 22:32 UK
Twin blasts cause Bombay carnage
Gulam Hussain (L) is comforted by his relative Afzar Shakpur as he lies in a bed recovering from injuries
Nearly 150 were injured in the blasts
At least 44 people have been killed after two powerful explosions struck the Indian city of Bombay within minutes of each other.

Nearly 150 people were injured, many seriously, by the double car bombing in the country's commercial capital, also known as Mumbai.

One explosion took place at the Gateway of India, the city's top tourist attraction.

The other explosion took place - and claimed most of the casualties - in a busy jewellery market near the Mumba Devi temple in central Bombay.

There were legs and hands lying on top and inside my taxi
Bombay resident

Witnesses described scenes of chaos as the blasts shook buildings, leaving mangled cars and trails of blood and glass strewn across the city's streets.

Telephone lines were jammed as panicked residents called family and friends.

No organisation has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, which took place during the lunchtime period and just five minutes apart.

Hours later, police found nine detonators in a railway tunnel north of Bombay.

The target appears to have been a train taking Hindus to a religious festival.

Running for their lives

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee strongly condemned the attacks, while the UN Secretary General called them despicable.

India's neighbour Pakistan said it deplored the incident.

Civic workers clear debris at the site of a bomb blast at Zaveri Bazaar in Bombay
The blast destroyed a crowded market area
The BBC's correspondent in Bombay, Sanjiv Srivastava, said that the force of the blast near the Gateway of India threw a number of people into the sea.

The taxi containing that bomb had been parked outside the Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the city's oldest luxury hotels, where windows were shattered and cars damaged.

Witnesses said survivors ran for cover after the blast, which left trails of blood in front of the Gateway of India, a colonial arch built next to the sea and one of India's most famous landmarks.

Ambulances raced across the city and appeals went out for volunteers to make emergency blood donations.

There were scenes of even worse carnage at the city's Zaveri Bazaar gold market, where the bomb exploded in front of a multi-storied building containing shops on the ground floor and flats above.

"You can't imagine what I saw. Bodies strewn around. I was in my flat when I heard a deafening sound. The building shook from its foundation, " local resident Prashant Zaveri told the BBC.

"I joined the neighbours. We put people inside cars, carts, whatever we could find and sent the injured to hospitals," he added.

Local anger

BBC correspondent Zubair Ahmed says pieces of broken glass, blood stains and smashed cars and shops could be seen in a 100 metre (yards) radius from the spot where the blast took place.

"There were legs and hands lying on top and inside my taxi," a local cab driver, whose clothes were covered in blood, told Reuters news agency. "I had a miraculous escape."

The Indian Government said it is not yet known who carried out the attacks, although it has been hinted that outlawed student Islamic groups could be involved.

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani said that the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), acting with the support of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba, was to blame for a string of other attacks in Bombay in recent months.

"Earlier these blasts were in buses and in almost all cases the organisation involved has been Simi and acting in conjunction with Lashkar e-Toiba," Mr Advani said.

Lashkar-e-Toiba is one of the two Pakistani rebel groups that Delhi blames for the December 2001 militant attack on its parliament which left 15 people dead, including five attackers.

Pakistan - India's traditional rival in the region and its neighbour - has condemned the bomb blast.

July 2003: Three killed in bus blast
Mar 2003: 11 killed in commuter train
Jan 2003: 30 injured in market attack
Dec 2002: 23 injured at McDonald's outlet
Dec 2002: Two killed in bus blast
Mar 1993: More than 250 killed in serial blasts

"We deplore these attacks. We condemn all acts of terrorism and I think that such wanton targeting of civilians should be condemned in the strongest possible terms," Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said.

Police issued security alerts for Bombay and Delhi after the explosions, calling police officers back from leave in case of further trouble, AP reported.

The latest attacks coincided with the release of a report on the controversial religious site at Ayodhya.

The dispute has been blamed for previous explosions in Bombay.

In the early 1990s hundreds of people were killed in a series of bomb blasts which rocked the city.

Those attacks were seen as retaliation for Muslim deaths following Hindu-Muslim riots.

The BBC's Adam Mynott
"The death toll climbed steadily all day to over 50"

In pictures: Bombay blasts
25 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery
Dispute over Ayodhya ruins
25 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Bombay blasts upset stock market
25 Aug 03  |  Business
Fear after Bombay train blast
14 Mar 03  |  South Asia

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