Image: Bakery hit by blast in Pune, India
Indian police and rescue workers inspect the scene of an explosion at the German Bakery in Pune on Saturday.
updated 2/13/2010 8:21:05 PM ET 2010-02-14T01:21:05

An apparent bomb tore through a crowded bakery popular with foreigners in western India, killing at least eight people and wounding 42 near a famed meditation center.

The blast Saturday in the city of Pune, 125 miles southeast of Mumbai, threatened to damage new efforts to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, with Hindu nationalist leaders already placing the blame for the explosion at India's Muslim neighbor.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said the 7:30 p.m. explosion at the German Bakery, near the Osho Ashram, a renowned meditation center, was likely caused by a bomb and it killed at least eight people. If confirmed, it would be the country's first terror attack since the Mumbai rampage in 2008.

Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh put the death toll at nine, according to the Press Trust of India.

"It appears that an unattended package was noticed in the bakery by one of the waiters who apparently attempted to open the package when the blast took place," Pillai told reporters.

The building and nearby shops were badly damaged and splattered with thick patches of blood and several limbs.

"I came running to the bakery after hearing the explosion. I found people lying all over the place," said Abba More, who lives nearby.

One foreigner was among those killed and another was injured in the blast, he said, adding their nationalities were not immediately known.

Harsh Vardhan Patil, a state minister, said 42 people were hospitalized with injuries, six in critical condition.

"All the information available to us at the moment points to a plot to explode a device in a place that is frequented by foreigners as well as Indians," Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told the Press Trust of India news agency.

If confirmed to be a bombing, it would be the first major terror strike in India since 10 Pakistan-based gunmen rampaged through hotels and the train station in the financial hub of Mumbai for 60 hours in November 2008, killing 166 people.

The blast came as ties between India and archrival Pakistan appeared to be warming. The two countries agreed to hold talks in New Delhi on Feb. 25, their first formal negotiations since the Mumbai attacks.

Asked whether the explosion was linked to the India-Pakistan talks, Pillai said: "Forensic investigations have just begun. Till they are completed, we will not know who is (involved)."

But Gopinath Munde, a senior Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party leader, asserted, "This again is an attack from Pakistan."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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