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Page last updated at 18:55 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 19:55 UK

Bombings rock Indian tourist city

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The bomb blast aftermath

At least 60 people have been killed and more than 150 wounded after a series of bomb blasts tore through the city of Jaipur in western India, officials say.

The bombs went off near historic monuments in the crowded old city at one of the busiest times of the day.

The head of state police said it was a terrorist attack. Reports suggest the death toll could rise.

Jaipur, in Rajasthan, is a popular tourist destination about 260km (160 miles) from the Indian capital, Delhi.

No group has admitted planting bombs in Jaipur. It is not yet clear what the motive for attacking the city might be.

Most people in Jaipur are Hindus but the city has a large Muslim minority. Correspondents say it has no history of religious violence.

There have been sporadic bomb attacks around India in recent years. The police have had little success in bringing prosecutions.

Crowded markets

Up to seven blasts were heard in the heart of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan state, starting at around 1915 local time (1345 GMT).

Each came a few minutes apart and eyewitnesses spoke of panic and then a stampede in the crowded old walled city.

Television pictures showed scenes of twisted debris and pools of blood on the streets.

RECENT BOMB ATTACKS
August 2007: Bombs in open-air auditorium and restaurant in Hyderabad kill more than 40
May 2007: Bomb in historic Hyderabad mosque kills 14
February 2007: Twin blasts on train travelling from Delhi to Pakistan kills at least 66 people near Panipat
July 2006: More than 160 killed by seven bombs on train network in Mumbai
March 2006: Bombs at Hindu temple and railway station in Varanasi kill 15
October 2005: Three blasts in Delhi kill 62

"I heard a deafening noise and I thought it was a [gas] cylinder blast," Hemanth Modi said.

"There was smoke and I could not find my son. Then I found him," he told NDTV news channel.

"According to the information I have received 60 people have died and 150 have been injured," said Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

A BBC correspondent at the main hospital in Jaipur says doctors there say they have counted 45 bodies brought to them.

Medical authorities have appealed for blood donations for the injured.

Police reinforcements have been deployed in the city to maintain order.

Seven bombs were placed in cars or shops, including in several markets, police said. An eighth was defused.

One exploded close to Jaipur's most famous landmark, the historic Hawa Mahal, or palace of winds.

"It's a terror attack. There was no [intelligence] report of this," police director general AS Gill told reporters.

"The way it has been done, the attempt was to cause the maximum damage to human life," he added.

Security has been stepped up at airports and railway stations across the country, officials said.

Indian President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the attacks and the prime minister appealed for calm.

Jaipur is an extremely popular stop on India's primary tourist circuit known as "The Golden Triangle", which takes in other historic sites of Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh state.

It is known as the Pink City, for the colour of its forts, palaces and city walls.

On Tuesdays many devotees flock to a popular shrine in Jaipur's old city.


SEE ALSO
Mumbai train bombing trial begins
18 Dec 07 |  South Asia
Security review after India bombs
06 Nov 06 |  South Asia
Country profile: India
06 Feb 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: India
05 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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