Indian police investigate blasts that killed six near nuclear plant

CHENNAI Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:42am EST

A policeman walks on a beach near Kudankulam nuclear power project in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu in this file photo taken September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

A policeman walks on a beach near Kudankulam nuclear power project in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu in this file photo taken September 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

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CHENNAI (Reuters) - Indian police are investigating whether anti-nuclear activists were behind bomb blasts that killed six people near a nuclear power plant which started production in October despite protests by villagers.

At least two crude bombs exploded on Tuesday in a house just a kilometer (half a mile) from the Russian-built Kudankulam plant on India's southernmost tip in the district of Tirunelveli.

Police have filed a formal investigation that names three people in connection with the explosions, Sumit Sharan, a senior police official in Tirunelveli, told Reuters. All of them were wounded in the blasts.

"We are trying to find out if they are members of the anti-nuclear group," Sharan said on Wednesday.

The much-delayed Kudankulam plant started producing electricity five weeks ago, with an initial output of 160 MW.

The plant, which should produce 2 gigawatts, has been dogged for a quarter of a century by opponents, including an anti-nuclear movement which sees it as a threat to the safety of villagers.

Unable to rely on a coal sector crippled by supply shortages and mired in scandal, India is pushing ahead with the construction of nuclear reactors despite global unease over safety.

The main anti-nuclear group in Tirunelveli denied any role in the explosions.

"We made it clear immediately that we have nothing to do with the bomb blasts," said S P Udayakumar, founder of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy.

Udayakumar said he believed gangs involved in illegal mining were behind the blasts.

(Writing by Shyamantha Asokan; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Robert Birsel)

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