Srinagar, India, Asharq Al-Awsat – An estimated 50 people died in a series of blasts that rocked New Delhi within minutes of each other on Saturday, most of them at a marketplace crowded with thousands of people getting ready the Hindu festival of Diwali.
The first of three explosions ripped through Paharganj market at 5:40 pm local time as it was crowded with shoppers and many casualties were reported. Minutes later, explosions targeted the Sarokini Nagar market and the Govindpuri area in southern Delhi.
Eyewitnesses said women and children were amongst the highest casualties. No group has yet claimed responsibility said the police but the explosions bear a resemblance to the London bombings on July 7, 2005 carried out by Islamist extremists.
Indian TV was showing harrowing pictures of the sites with pool of blood on the tarmac and body parts scattered all over the pavement. Several shops were damaged and objects strewn on the ground. Police sealed the affected areas and fire fighters were seen arriving at the scenes of the explosions.
While it was still unclear what had caused the blast, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office said there is no doubt terrorists were to blame.
Many of those injured are foreigners on budget holidays to New Delhi as Paharganj features a number of small and inexpensive hotels popular with foreign travelers, particularly backpackers.
Indian armed forces were put on high alert in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir and intelligence reports warned more explosions could occur in the coming days.