Bomb Blasts Rock Bombay

Police inspect a car damaged in a bomb blast at Zawari Bazar in Bombay, India, Aug. 25, 2003.
AP
Two bomb blasts rocked India's financial capital of Bombay on Monday, killing at least 40 people and injuring 150 others, a police official said.

No immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, but they came the same day as the release of a long-anticipated archaeological report on a religious site in northern India claimed by both Hindus and Muslims. The dispute has been linked to previous bombings.

The explosions shook buildings in Bombay and telephone lines were jammed and mobile phone services briefly crashed as panicked residents called family and friends.

Police issued security alerts for Bombay and New Delhi, the Indian capital, after the explosions, calling policemen back from leave in case of further trouble.

At least 40 of the wounded were critical, said Kulkarni, an official in the office of the state's deputy chief minister. His first name was not immediately available.

One explosion was at the Gateway of India, a famous seaside landmark and tourist attraction built by India's former British colonizers to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George V, said Javed Ahmed, a police commissioner for Bombay. Another went off near the Pydhonie police station, he said.

Another bomb rocked the Zaveri Bazaar, a crowded market of jewelry stores, said a police official who asked not to be identified.

The bombs went off in southern Bombay. It was unclear which explosions were deadly.

"The building we were in shook and we heard a loud noise," said Ingrid Alva, a public relations consultant who works near the gateway. "I rushed out and saw the crowds at the Gateway of India ... We saw some body parts lying around, before we were told to move away by the police."

The blast broke windows at the Taj Mahal Hotel, which is across the street from the gateway, and damaged cars in the parking lot, said Ravi Dubey, the hotel's communications manager.

The explosions came just hours after the release of the archaeological report on the religious site in the northern town of Ayodhya.

Bombay has fallen prey to a string of deadly bomb attacks since late last year, with the most recent, on a bus, killing three people in July.

In March, a bomb attack on a Bombay train, which police blamed on Islamic militants, killed 11 people and wounded 64 others.

The next day, police in India's capital of New Dehli said they found and defused six bombs at the main railway station.

The March explosion came a day after the 10th anniversary of a series of bombings in Bombay — also blamed on Islamic militants — which killed more than 250 people and injured 1,000.

Police say the bombings were in retaliation for the 1992 destruction by Hindus mobs of the 16th-century Ayodhya mosque, and to avenge Muslim deaths in riots that followed.

Some Hindus claim the mosque was built centuries ago on the ruins of a Hindu temple that marked the birthplace of their supreme god, Rama.

The report, issued by the government archaeological agency, indicated there had been some sort of ancient structure at the site, lawyers for both sides said, though they disagreed on whether it said there had actually been a temple.

The report was released to lawyers and has not been made available to the public or the media.