India’s president and prime minister have appealed for calm after a series of explosions killed at least 38 people in the western city of Ahmedabad.

President Pratibha Patil urged people to “remain steadfast in this testing time and maintain peace and harmony”.Ahmedabad was the scene of religious violence between Hindus and Muslims in early 2002 which left hundreds dead. On Saturday, 17 blasts within an hour struck residential areas, market places, public transport and hospitals. It is thought the explosions were caused by crudely-made devices containing ball-bearings and other shrapnel, hidden in boxes and on bicycles. Local media reports say a little-known Islamist group called the Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. The attack in Gujarat state’s commercial capital came a day after several devices went off in the southern city of Bangalore. The government has put the security agencies on alert in other major cities, including Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur, some of which have been targets of serial bomb explosions in the past.

‘Peace and harmony’
The bombs in Ahmedabad were detonated with timers and all went off in the space of 36 minutes, the first at about 1830 (1300 GMT), officials said. (Continue Reading…)

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