Published July 11, 2006
MUMBAI, India – Indian police were conducting a nationwide manhunt on Tuesday for a series of terrorist bombings carried out at rush hour on Mumbai's crowded transit system. The attacks reportedly left nearly 150 dead and at least 439 injured.
Police reportedly were carrying out raids across the country following the explosions, presumably in search of suspects. One television report said a suspect was in custody.
The explosions, which occurred as commuters were returning home from work during the evening rush, tore apart locomotives and scattered bodies around the tracks, as shown on Indian television.
“More casualties are expected,” Global Radio News reporter Arun Asthana told FOX News.
The Indian home minister said on Indian television that authorities had information of an attack but did not know when or where it was to occur.
“There is no information about who is behind these blasts,” Asthana said of the attacks on the transit system in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay.
Tuesday evening's first explosion hit a train at a railway station in the northwestern suburb of Khar, said a police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Six more blasts followed down the line of the western railway at the Mahim, Bandra, Matunga, Borivili, Mira Road and Jogeshwari stations. Some passengers reportedly jumped from speeding trains in panic.
India's major cities were put on high alert after the blasts, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called an emergency Cabinet meeting and said that "terrorists" were behind the attacks.
The force of the blasts ripped doors and windows off carriages, and luggage and debris were strewn about, splattered with blood. Survivors were seen clutching bloody bandages to their heads and faces. Some were able to walk from the station.
"We are busy in the rescue operation," Police Chief A. N. Roy said on Indian television. "Our first priority is to rescue the injured people," but heavy monsoon downpours were hampering efforts.
A senior Mumbai police official, P.S. Pasricha, said the explosions were part of a well-coordinated attack. Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located, said bombs had caused all eight blasts.
Pranay Prabhakar, the spokesman for the Western Railway, said all trains had been suspended in Mumbai and appealed to the public to stay away from the city's train stations.
Some of the injured were seen frantically dialing their cell phones.
“No one has been able to get through to anyone on the phone,” said Shukshana Gupta, a reporter for the Indian Express newspaper. “There’s really a lot of panic” in part due to the inability to communicate with cell phones because the lines were jammed.
The Press Trust of India said the blasts occurred along the city's commuter rail network, which is among the most crowded in the world. All the blasts had hit first-class cars, the agency reported.
“There are thousands and thousands of people riding these trains,” Asthana said.
The first explosion hit the train at a railway station in the northwestern suburb of Khar, said a police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
There was no immediate indication if homicide bombers were involved. Police inspector Ramesh Sawant said most of the victims suffered head and chest injuries, leading authorities to believe the bombs were placed in overhead luggage racks.
"I can't hear anything," said Shailesh Mhate, a man in his 20s, sitting on the floor of Veena Desai Hospital surrounded by bloody cotton swabs. "People around me didn't survive. I don't know how I did."
The attacks came hours after a series of grenade attacks by Islamic extremists killed eight people in the main city of India's part of Kashmir.
Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan in war after they gained independence from Britain in 1947, and they fought another full-scale conflict over the region in 1965.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry issued a statement late Tuesday condemning the attacks.
"Pakistan strongly condemns the series of bomb blasts on commuter trains," the ministry said in a statement. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat offered condolences over the loss of life, the statement said, adding "terrorism is a bane of our times and it must be condemned, rejected and countered effectively and comprehensively."
Attacks against civilians and financial targets, such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, have escalated in the last seven or eight years, Asthana said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.