HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) - Three bombs within minutes, one at a street-side food stall and two in an amusement park, killed at least 38 people in a southern Indian city on Saturday in the latest in a series of attacks on urban centers.
More than 70 people were wounded in the blasts in Hyderabad, a city with a history of communal violence, and where nearly a dozen people were killed when a mosque was bombed in May.
There was no claim of responsibility.
“The blasts took place almost simultaneously and we are still counting the number of dead,” said Balwinder Singh, the city’s police commissioner.
Several bodies taken to the city’s main hospital were missing limbs or decapitated, illustrating the force of the explosions.
“We are asking relatives to identify the bodies when all parts are put together,” said a senior doctor, B. Venkateshwar Rao, at Osmania hospital.
Officials said the blasts were all due to bombs and described them as a terrorist attack. Three other devices were found across the city -- including two in cinemas -- and defused without causing any injuries.
Singh told reporters 38 people had died, including at least two young children. Several of the injured were in a critical condition.
A senior police officer told Reuters the blasts occurred within 10 minutes of each other at around 7:40 p.m. local time (1010 EDT).
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the bombings.
Hyderabad is one of India’s biggest cities and a key information technology hub. It has a large Muslim minority and a history of clashes between Hindus and Muslims.
In the last few years a string of bomb blasts in Indian cities have killed hundreds of people, the most deadly of which was an attack on Mumbai’s railway system last July when seven explosions killed more than 180 people.
Indian police and security analysts have blamed Islamist militant groups in Pakistan for previous attacks and say they have been using hardline Indian Muslims to plant bombs in an attempt to cover their cross-border links.
The attacks have been widely seen as attempts to derail a slow-moving peace process between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan and to trigger widespread violence between religious communities.
But they have failed to do either.
India and Pakistan set up a joint counter-terrorism system last year after the Mumbai bombs but it has made little progress due to what India says is Pakistan’s reluctance to hand over people it has demanded, and political turmoil in Pakistan.
Indian Junior Home Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal said: “Definitely some terrorist organization is behind these attacks, which wants to weaken our unity and peaceful co-existence.”
The most deadly of the blasts in Hyderabad was at a road-side food stand, where at least 24 people were killed, police said.
Some police officials said that bomb was made from RDX high-explosive and placed near a gas cylinder.
The other target was the Lumbini amusement park where at least two blasts occurred during a popular laser show.
“I saw chairs flying in the air along with bodies,” said Vineet, a young man who had been watching the show with hundreds of others.
Cities across India were put on high alert, including the capital, New Delhi, with extra police patrolling bus and railway stations and airports.
Additional reporting by Kamil Zaheer, Onkar Pandey and Meenakshi Ray in NEW DELHI