A previously unknown Islamic militant group claimed responsibility Thursday for bombings that killed dozens in this historic Indian city by planting bicycles laden with explosives on crowded streets, police said.
The claim was reportedly made in videos and an e-mail sent to Indian television stations and a Hindu nationalist political party. Investigators were examining the video clips, which showed a bicycle with an alleged bomb strapped to it parked in a crowded market, said Pankaj Singh, the city’s inspector-general of police.
Police said Thursday that 61 people were killed in Tuesday’s bombings and 90 people were wounded. Previously, they said 80 people were killed and 200 wounded. Police did not give an explanation for the revised tolls.
Singh said investigators believe most of the bombs were placed in bags left on bicycles, which police have traced to two shops in Jaipur’s old city. Police released a sketch of a man in his early 20s who is suspected of buying the bikes and have questioned nearly a dozen people. But no arrests have been made, Singh said.
A previously unknown group calling itself the Indian Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for the bombings in the two video clips, Singh said. They also made the claim in an e-mail sent to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which governs the state of Rajasthan, where Jaipur is located, the CNN-IBN television news channel reported.
In the e-mail, the group demanded India stop working with the United States and Britain, CNN-IBN said. The e-mail also says Jaipur, a city of pink-hued palaces that is popular with Indian and foreign tourists, was targeted to disrupt the tourism industry. There have been no reports of foreigners killed or wounded in the attack.
Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, which heads India’s governing coalition, visited Jaipur on Thursday along with Home Minister Shivraj Patil. They toured the blast sites and met with some of the wounded at a hospital.
Patil condemned the attack and said “the guilty will be brought to justice.”
Stoking Muslim-Hindu tension?
Apart from targeting a tourist center, officials have said they believe the attack was also intended to stoke tensions between India’s Hindu majority and its Muslim minority.
Authorities tried to prevent any retaliatory violence by imposing a daylong curfew for a second day in Jaipur’s walled old city, where the seven explosions took place.
Since the bombings on Tuesday, Indian authorities have repeatedly suggested blame would eventually fall on Islamic militant groups, many of which India accuses Pakistan of backing.
The attacks came days after Indian soldiers came under fire trying to stop militants from crossing the frontier with Pakistan, and 11 people were killed in fighting between security forces and Islamic militants in the Himalayan region.
Indian authorities say Pakistan-based Islamic extremist groups were behind those incidents and a spate of bombings that have killed hundreds in this predominantly Hindu country of 1.1 billion people since 2005. Pakistan, an overwhelmingly Muslim country, denies any role in the bombings.