Hyderabad blasts: 16 killed, more than 100 injured in twin explosions

Hyderabad blast photo
Bombs kept on bicycles outside two cinemas * Ammonium nitrate and ball bearings found

Terror revisited Hyderabad on Thursday as two powerful bombs ripped through a busy street junction in the Dilsukhnagar area of the city during the evening rush hour, killing at least 16 people and injuring at least 117, of which four are critical.

Hyderabad blast photos

The bombs were kept in tiffin boxes inside rexine bags that were placed on bicycles parked outside two popular cinema halls, Venkatadri and Konark, where new films are released on Thursdays.

The blasts are the first in the country since the four low-intensity serial explosions in the heart of Pune on August 1 last year. Only one man was injured in those crude bomb blasts.

Hyderabad was last targeted on August 25, 2007, when two near-simultaneous explosions killed 42 people and injured more than 50. Those explosions took place at Lumbini amusement park and Gokul Chat Bhandar.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said in Delhi that the Centre had some intelligence about the possibility of an attack and it had been passed on to the states but the information was not specific.

On Thursday, the first bomb went off near a mobile phone shop outside Konark at 6.55 pm and the second outside Venkatadri three minutes later, Director General of Police V Dinesh Reddy said. They were so powerful that facades, concrete and metal-fronts of most shops and businesses within 100 metres disintegrated. Five among the injured were critical.

Police have recovered two mangled bicycles which they suspect were used to place the bombs. The victims were mostly those waiting near the bus stop between the two theatres and some who were grabbing a quick snack at an eatery.

The area is filled with people visiting the shops and food joints and those who come to pray at the popular Sai Baba temple about half a kilometre away, particularly on Thursday evenings.

A flower and vegetable market is also located near the bus stop and devotees buy offerings here before visiting the temple. This is the second time the area near the temple is being targeted. A blast just outside the temple on November 21, 2002 had injured scores of people.

The main suspect in that attack, Abdul Razak alias Masood, an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba operative, committed suicide in his house in October alleging police harassment.

Dilsukhangar is home to lakhs of migrants from coastal Andhra districts and is a self-contained suburb of Hyderabad. It is also a hub of thousands of students studying in private colleges, computer institutes and coaching classes, and software professionals working in Hi-Tech City.

A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the bomb squad of Hyderabad police found traces of ammonium nitrate at the site of the blasts. Ball bearings were also strewn all over the place, sources said.

State Intelligence Bureau officers said they had last Saturday received a vague terror alert about a possible attack in the city. "The note did not have any specific information but mentioned that Hyderabad, Bangalore, Hubli, Coimbatore and Maharashtra and Gujarat could be targets of terrorist attacks,'' one officer said.

The state police had also received threats of attacks after AIMIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi was arrested for making incendiary speeches. Security was also stepped up following anonymous threats after the hanging of 26/11 convict Ajmal Kasab, and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

DGP Reddy said that a team of the National Security Guard (NSG) and a NIA IG were being rushed by the Centre while a NSG team from the Hyderabad hub was at the spot. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy announced that the families of the dead would be paid Rs 6 lakh each.

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