More than 160 people have been killed and around 460 injured
in India today
after seven explosions tore through packed commuter trains in Mumbai,
India’s financial centre.

The choreographed explosions occurred within 30 minutes of each other,
starting at 6pm, ripping through rush-hour crowds on several different
trains in the city centre
and suburbs of the city of 16 million. Much of the rail network
was suspended and phone services disrupted.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, which seeks an end to
Indian control of Jammu & Kashmir state, claimed responsibility, according
to the CNN-IBN television channel.

The blasts came just hours after suspected Islamist
militants killed seven people, six of them tourists, in a series of grenade
attacks in Indian Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, police said, the most
concerted targeting of civilians in months.

India’s
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has pledged to tackle terrorism with “all
possible measures” as governments across the world condemned the worst attack
in Mumbai in 13 years.

While Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said that the
blasts would not affect the routine functioning of the city. “Mumbai will
function normally on Wednesday. Schools, colleges, governments offices will
function like any normal day … and I am sure that the spirit of Mumbai will
prevail”, Deshmukh told journalists after an emergency Cabinet meeting.

“There will be a strong reaction from New
Delhi,” said MJ Gohel, a terrorism analyst with the
Asia Pacific Foundation, a London-based research institute – as India
put major cities and airports on alert, stepping up security patrols in public
places. “The government will be under enormous pressure to act.”

He said the attacks weren’t a surprise “because India
is very much a target of global jihad”, or holy war. And that the incident may
cause “some cooling in relations with Pakistan”,
which he said “has not been doing enough to stop” terrorist groups.

“From what I can tell, it’s actually very calm outside,” says Stephen
Kelly, a Crikey subscriber writing from the Grand Hyatt, just off the
Western Highway in Mumbai, this morning. “Probably due to the fact that
it’s been
raining quite steadily … Interestingly, there is a huge move to (get
people) to text in live to TV with messages saying people are safe etc.
Very quickly afterwards, there was an SMS alert service set up to get
live updates to your phone (great idea, huh?). Indian telly this
morning is being very upfront that it’s business as usual. The western
train line is back open, and the stock market will open.”

But “despite
India having one of the fastest growing economies in the world, their
lack of speed in responding to the bomb blasts in Mumbai raises great
concern,” says Paramjit S Gulati, from UK, on the blog Reofior. “It is not the first blast to rock Mumbai and yet the emergency
services have not learnt any lessons from previous experience, this
lack of response has led to more casualties than there may have been,
let us hope that India’s emergency services learn their lesson for the
future. I also hope that India does not rush into any conclusions about
who has been responsible for the blasts like they have in previous bomb
blasts, they will need to give a measured response.”

Picture via Riofior

Peter Fray

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