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9 killed, 40 injured in Pune bomb blast

Mumbai Bureau

Explosives planted in bakery frequented by foreigners

— PHOTO: AFP

Ripped apart: The damage caused by a bomb explosion at the German Bakery in Pune’s Koregaon Park on Saturday.

MUMBAI: In a major terror strike after the November 26, 2008 carnage in Mumbai, nine persons including four foreigners, all women, were killed and over 40 injured in a bomb blast which ravaged the famous German Bakery on North Main Avenue in Pune’s Koregaon Park near the Osho Ashram around 7.30 p.m. on Saturday. Unofficial figures put the number of injured at 50.

Initially the police said it was a gas cylinder blast, but the explosion is now suspected to be an improvised explosive device (IED) using an ammonium nitrate fuel oil mix, with RDX as a booster, police sources said. About 7 kg explosives may have been used. The bodies were charred beyond recognition. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said preliminary reports indicated that it was a bomb blast.

An eyewitness who was travelling in an autorickshaw said he heard a loud explosion and blacked out. Another eyewitness said bodies were scattered and more than 10 were seen at the site. Four shops were damaged near the bakery, which has been there for 22 years.

The bag containing the bomb was said to be under a table, according to one account, and a waiter is said to have tried to open it. This caused the explosion which devastated the bakery, located near the Jewish Chabad House. A customer said he heard the blast, but escaped unhurt. There were bodies lying all around, he said.

Sources said the bakery was close to a hotel where Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley had stayed while visiting Osho Ashram. However, Headley did not recce this bakery.

Soon after the blast, an unidentified bag was found in an autorickshaw. It contained 7 kg of explosives.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has also reached Pune, apart from forensic experts. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will reach there by Sunday.

The blast has sent shockwaves in Pune, prompting a high alert in Mumbai and other cities in Maharashtra. The police have been asked to look out for unattended baggage.

Joint Commissioner of Police Rajendra Sonawane said that prima facie it looked like a bomb blast.

Congress city president Abhay Chhajed confirmed the number of deaths. “I myself have seen six bodies at the Sassoon Hospital. There are more at other hospitals.” He said the injured had been taken to Ruby Hall, Jehangir, Budhrani and Sassoon hospitals in the city.

The bakery is a popular spot with foreign tourists. Six or eight of the injured are said to be foreign nationals.

Mr. Chavan has announced ex gratia payment of Rs. 1 lakh to each of the families of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 for the injured.

Security for the Indian and South African cricket teams has been tightened. The second test match is beginning in Kolkata on Sunday.

Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi said: “I appeal to the people of Pune to be calm. Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe, who is at the site, has confirmed to me that it was bomb blast. Further details are awaited.”

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and other leaders have appealed for calm after the incident.

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