HYDERABAD: The killing just doesn’t stop. At least 40 people were killed and scores injured in two powerful blasts in Hyderabad, one at an amusement park packed with weekend holidayers and another at a landmark eatery in the heart of the city on Saturday evening — exactly four years after twin blasts at Mumbai’s Gateway and Zaveri Bazar killed 53.
The first blast happened at 7.40 pm in Lumbini Park, India’s biggest laser show arena, a stone’s throw from the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat and flanking Hussainsagar lake. The second took place some 30 minutes later in Gokul Chat at Sultan Bazar in Koti neighbourhood in the communally sensitive old city. Police said bombs at both places seemed to have timer devices but some sources said the Koti blast could have been executed by a suicide bomber.
Reports of unexploded bombs being discovered in a movie theatre in Narayanaguda and in Dilsukhnagar suggested that the attacks —- similar to the Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad that killed 16 people this May —- were well-planned serial attacks aimed at causing maximum casualties among citizens chilling out over the weekend.
The Mecca Masjid attacks were planned and executed by Bangladesh-based terror group Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (Huji). Early indications suggest similar explosives were used on Saturday. The Lumbini Park blast ripped out four rows of seats from its moorings and blew out parts of the concrete base to smithereens, leaving mangled bodies everywhere. There were some tell-tale marks of RDX being used and the bombs had been packed in plastic containers with steel balls used in bicycle wheel hubs, which acted as shrapnel.
Intelligence agency sources said the attacks could be the handiwork of Shahid Ilyas Bilal, who’s also linked to the Mecca Masjid attacks. He’s a high-ranking Lashkar-e-Taiba operative who has lately been working with HuJi. Intelligence agencies monitoring his activities have recently observed him flitting in and out of jehadi chat rooms. There is a new pattern of militant groups pooling resources for bigger strikes, so a combined operation is not being ruled out.
Such vicious attacks prove that cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore, emerging icons of a vibrant nation, are firmly in the cross-hairs of terror groups which have made India a country with perhaps the highest number of civilian victims of terror (leaving aside war-torn countries like Iraq).