Terror blasts at Indian mosque

From the Sept. 9 New York Times, buried at the bottom of page 4 (below a much larger “profile” piece on a New Age self-help book written by Slovenia’s president). Links added.

Explosions Hit Indian Mosque, Stoking Fear of Further Violence 
NEW DELHI — A series of explosions struck in and near the largest mosque in a flashpoint textile town in western India on Friday, killing more than two dozen people, wounding more than 100 and raising the specter of renewed sectarian clashes.

The police said there were three explosions, two inside the mosque compound and one nearby, in Malegaon, a city of about 500,000 with a history of Hindu-Muslim violence, about 160 miles north of Mumbai, the financial capital.

The mosque is also home to one of the largest Muslim cemeteries in the area, local residents said, and the blasts struck shortly after unusually crowded Friday Prayer, as worshipers prepared graves to honor the dead on the Shab-e-Barat holiday.

Speaking to reporters here in the capital, Home Minister Shivraj Patil called the explosions a “terrorist” attack intended to provoke a clash between “different sections of society.”

The country has suffered a spate of terrorist attacks in recent years, including the July 7 commuter train bombings in Mumbai, which the authorities have attributed to Islamist militants setting up so-called sleeper cells across the country.

The bombings on Friday were unusual in that they seemed to be directed at a heavily Muslim area. No one claimed responsibility and the authorities declined to speculate on who could be responsible.

The attacks came three days after what now sounds like a prophetic warning from the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, about the many-headed specter of violence threatening his country.

“We confront a wide array of complex internal security problems and threats,” he told a meeting of chief ministers on Tuesday here in the capital. He called for improving intelligence and training the police to better counter terrorist groups.

In the last year, India has witnessed attacks on busy markets in Delhi, a Hindu temple in eastern Varanasi, and against tourists in Kashmir. The only other attack on an explicitly Muslim site was a January explosion inside a mosque in Delhi.

Anil Kumbhare, a police superintendent in Malegaon, said that 29 people had died in the attack there. Reuters reported a death toll of 32.

We can’t find any reference online to the “January explosion inside a mosque in Delhi”, but it is possible the Times is refering to the April explosion inside a mosque in Delhi.

See our last posts on India and Hindu-Muslim violence. Are resurgent Hindu fascists starting to emulate the tactics of their Islamist competition?