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Pune in shock at restaurant bombing

14 February 10 12:51 GMT

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Pune

Pune, known as the cultural and educational capital of the western Indian state of Maharashtra, is in shock at the bombing of the German Bakery.

The restaurant is popular with students and tourists and was crowded when one of the waiters opened an unattended bag to see who it belonged to.

The following explosion destroyed the restaurant and the outdoor seating area, although the building above was left standing.

"When I heard the blast it was like a earthquake tremor," said Santosh Bhosale, a shopkeeper who was nearby at the time.

"We ran to see what happened and saw bodies lying. I didn't think twice and I started to help people to take the injured to hospital.

"I knew the staff members of the bakery. We all have been here for years together now and are extremely fond of each other. This bakery is like our home," he said.

Initial reports of a second bag containing explosives have been discounted.

The German Bakery is in a plush, upmarket area of Pune, close to the Osho Ashram and the Jewish Chabad House.

There was a heavy police presence at the three Pune hospitals where the injured - most of them between 25-30 years old - were taken.

At Jehangir Hospital students gathered in anxious clusters to ask after their friends.

Thirteen of the injured were taken here. Two were later discharged after being treated for minor injuries.

"My friend Aditya Mehtra was admitted," said Yogesh, an engineering student.

"Students are always around the German Bakery - especially on a Saturday evening. We never felt anything in Pune but now it will change," he said.

He was told his friend was in the intensive care unit in a stable condition.

The government has offered compensation of about $10,700 (£6,800) for the families of those killed and has said it will pay for the treatment of all those injured.

Security fears

Outside the restaurant, a police constable said until now the citizens of Pune had felt safe and not worried about terror attacks.

"One incident is enough to alter the city. Now people will not have peace of mind. How did they manage to attack such a busy place in such an important area? Now after all these deaths it will get difficult. Pune is otherwise a laidback and relaxed city but now one does not know."

But local resident Salil Nishte said he thought security around the bakery had recently decreased.

"We used to come here for a cappuccino and pastries occasionally. In the last few days I had noticed that security was reduced," he said.

"Normally this area is very well protected because of Osho Centre and Chabad House. However, I feel that over years the population of foreigners and important dignitaries has increased, so security should be beefed up adequately at all times so that such incidents do not occur."

In the absence of anyone claiming responsibility for the attack, speculation has focused on Indian Mujahiddin, Jamat ud Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Questions are also being asked about an alert raised for Pune in October.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has said David Headley, an American facing charges in the US for allegedly scouting targets for the Mumbai attack, had also surveyed Chabad House and Osho Ashram.

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