Pune blast: Toll rises to 15 with two more deaths

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, February 21, 2010

Two more people today succumbed to injuries they suffered in the powerful bomb blast that devastated a popular eatery in Pune on February 13, taking the death toll in the terrorist attack to 15, police said.

Pune police officials told NetIndian over the telephone that both persons breathed their last at the Jehangir Hospital in the city this morning, one at 0530 hours and the other at 1130 hours.

One of them was identified as Rajeev Nandkumar Agarwal, 23, who hailed from Kolkata and was a final year student of law at the Symbiosis Law College in Pune.

The other victim was identified by the police as Vikas Suresh Tulsiani, 24, a resident of Pune, who had completed his engineering degree and was looking for a job.

Nine people had died and 57 others injured on the day of the blast that was set off by unidentified terrorists at the restaurant, located close to the Osho Ashram and a Jewish Chabad House.

Since then, six people, including a Sudanese student, have succumbed to their injuries in hospital.

About six of those still undergoing treatment in hospital are said to be in a serious condition.

The blast at the "German Bakery" in Pune's Koregaon Park area, frequented by foreigners and youngsters, was the first major terrorist incident in India after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, which claimed 166 lives.

Four of those killed in the attack on the restaurant were foreigners. Apart from the Sudanese youth, the others were an Iranian youth, an Italian woman and a Nepalese youth who worked as a waiter at the restaurant.

Reports from the forensic science laboratory in Pune have stablished that ammonium nitrate, RDX and petroleum had been used in the explosive used by the perpetrators of the attack.

Details about how the explosion was triggered, whether by a timer device or by remote conrol, were still not available.

The blast occurred around 7.30 pm on February 13 when the restaurant was teeming with youngsters and foreigners. The explosion took place when a waiter noticed an unattended backpack under one of the tables and tried to open it.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) is investigating the case with assistance from officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The Osho Ashram and the Chabad House had both been surveyed by suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley during one of his visits to India.

Headley, a US national of Pakistani origin, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, also believed to be an LeT operative, were arrested by the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from Chicago in October last year for allegedly conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks in Denmark and India.

Subsequent investigations have led the authorities in the US and India to believe that the two men were involved in the conspiracy to carry out the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.