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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 February 2007, 11:53 GMT
Mass funeral for India train dead
Mourners help to unload a coffin from a lorry in Mehrana, northern India
Officials said that the bodies were beginning to decompose
Twenty-three people killed in last Sunday's Indian train bombing have been buried without being identified.

Officials in the northern state of Haryana said the unclaimed bodies had to be buried because they were beginning to decompose.

But relatives will have the right to have the bodies exhumed later if DNA tests determine their identity.

A total of 68 people, most of them from Pakistan, died when the bomb started a fire on the Delhi-Lahore train.

Sombre ceremony

Both Islamic and Hindu religious verses were recited during the mass burial in the village of Mehrana in Haryana.

India train attack
Neither side wants the bombing to halt the peace process

Shocked by the burial of a child, one Muslim woman was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying: "No-one will know if its parents are also dead. No-one to tell them their baby is dead, if they are alive," the woman said.

Officials say that relatives wanting to rebury their loved ones will have the right to do so after DNA reports on the bodies are completed within the next 10 to 15 days.

Officials at Panipat, the town nearest the scene of the blast, told the BBC that six bodies had been buried on Friday after their Pakistani relatives had given their consent.

Seven Pakistani passengers injured in the bombing had returned home aboard a military plane, officials said on Friday.

Grieving Pakistani relatives of train victims

They said that the victims were brought to the eastern city of Lahore by the Pakistan Air Force late on Thursday, and were being treated at the government Mayo Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Indian President, APJ Kalam, has said that India wants better ties with Pakistan but the peace process will only benefit if Islamabad fully curbs "cross-border terrorism".

Laying out government policy at the start of parliament's first session of the year, he said that India was still worried about the infiltration of militants into India from Pakistan and attacks launched by them.

Tragic event

"The success of the dialogue process is predicated on Pakistan fulfilling its commitment not to permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner," he told parliament.

But he stressed that the bombing would not derail the peace process between the two countries.

"We should not allow this tragic event to affect our common quest for normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan," he said. Indian authorities have admitted that security lapses at the Delhi railway station may have allowed the attackers to place the home-made suitcase bombs on the train.

Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav told parliament that urgent steps were being taken to strengthen and modernise the Railway Protection Force which is responsible for security across Indian train stations.

He said that vacancies in the force would be filled, and more sniffer dogs, metal detectors and TV surveillance would be used at key stations.

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