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Bombs wound at least 13 at New Delhi mosque

Twin explosions rocked New Delhi’s main mosque shortly after several hundred people offered Friday prayers, and at least six people were injured, police said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Two bombs exploded at New Delhi’s main mosque shortly before hundreds of worshippers offered Friday prayers, injuring at least 13 people, an official said.

The two blasts occurred within 30 minutes of each other at the Jama Masjid mosque, said Police Chief K.K. Paul.

“We are investigating what kind of explosive devices were used,” Paul said.

Thirteen people were injured, said Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

The mosque was evacuated and police bomb disposal squads combed the mosque complex, Paul said. Police went on high alert and stepped up security across the city.

It was not known who was behind the explosions, which were caused by at least two bombs planted in different parts of the complex. The explosions went off just before hundreds of people were to gather for evening prayers.

The first bomb exploded near the washing area of the mosque, where people clean their hands before offering prayers, said Imam Bukhari, the mosque’s chief cleric.

The 17th century Jama Masjid is located in one of the most congested neighborhoods of New Delhi and is surrounded by hundreds of shops and houses lining a maze of crowded alleyways.

Bukhari appealed to people to remain calm and said evening prayers would take place as usual.
“People were walking around and suddenly — boom! — there was a bomb,” said Mohammed Salaudi, who was inside the mosque when the first explosion took place.

Salaudi said he saw at least three injured people after the explosion in the main courtyard of the complex.

Police began letting people enter the main mosque for evening prayers and hundreds of worshippers were back in the mosque less than two hours afterward.

Most of them stopped near the site of the blasts to stare at the red sandstone floor of the mosque, which had turned bluish black from the blast’s impact.

Half a dozen shoes and flip-flops, some charred from the explosion, lay scattered on the floor, left behind as people fled after the blasts.

“Who would do something like this? What sort of person is this?” asked Mustafa Iqbal, a trader who had come for evening prayers, as he looked at the shoes.