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Bombings hit New Delhi, killing 18

A coordinated series of explosions have struck crowded shopping areas across India's capital, and officials say at least 18 people have been killed and 61 wounded.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A coordinated series of bombings struck crowded shopping areas across India's capital Saturday evening, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens, officials said. A Muslim extremist group claimed responsibility for the explosions.

A number of Indian media outlets received an e-mail sent just before the explosions warning that India was about to receive "the Message of Death."

"In the name of Allah, Indian Mujahideen strikes back once more. ... Do whatever you can. Stop us if you can," the message said.

The Indian Mujahideen was unknown before May, when it claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in the western city of Jaipur that killed 61 people. The group also said it was responsible for July blasts in the western state of Gujarat that killed at least 45.

Explosions just before sundown
Mayor Arti Mehra said as many as seven explosions went off across New Delhi, starting just before sundown. Home Minister Shivraj Patil says at least 18 people have been killed in the explosions. Mayor Arti Mehra says there were as many as seven blasts.

"It's a very cowardly act of violence," Mehra told reporters near the scene of two of the explosions, in the M-Block market of the upscale Greater Kailash neighborhood. "They want to break the spirit of Delhi. They have tried this in other places before and they have not succeeded and they will not succeed here. They will not scare us."

All of the bombs appeared to have gone off at, or very near, crowded shopping areas in scattered around the city.

An unexploded bomb was found near India Gate, the central colonial-era memorial that is one of the country's best-known symbols, Joint Commissioner of Police Ajay Kashyap was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

Two of the explosions in New Delhi occurred just 300 yards apart in Connaught Place, the central shopping district. The usually crowded streets quickly emptied of shoppers and filled with screaming police cars, fire engines and ambulances.

One bomb went off by a subway station entrance on a major road, and a police officer at the scene said it appeared to have been left inside a sidewalk garbage bin. He declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The sidewalk was covered with garbage broken glass and a small pool of blood.

Raju Chohan was walking through the area with a friend when he heard "a deafening sound and there was some sort of smell in the air."

In the minutes after the blast, the scene was filled with blood and chaos as police officers raced to the scene and passers-by helped victims into taxis and rickshaws to get to hospitals. A Hindu holy man clad in orange robes lay face down in the gutter a few feet away, apparently dead. Another man, his faced bloodied, walked away from the scene, helped along by others.

A second bombing in Connaught Place occurred in a park filled with families and young people relaxing on the grass.

"Everyone was running every way. They heard the bomb and they just started running," said Raj Kumar, 30, a store clerk in the area.