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New Delhi, September 7, 2011
Terror struck the capital again when at least 11 people were killed and more than 75 others injured, many of them seriously, in a powerful blast that took place at a spot outside gates 4 and 5 of the Delhi High Court this morning.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on an official visit to Dhaka, described the blast as a "cowardly act of a terrorist nature" and said the country would deal with it and never succumb to the pressure of terrorism.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha in a statement that the Government was determined to track down the perpetrators of the "horrific crime".
"I appeal to the House and to the people of the country that we must remain resolute and united. We must not show any vacillation. We shall never be intimidated by terrorist groups," he said.
The blast occurred around 1015 hours near the reception outside the court premises, where people form long queues to get passes made for entering the court premises. The explosion occurred just 15 minutes before court proceedings were due to begin at 1030 hours, a time when there is a huge crowd of people waiting to get inside.
The injured were rushed by ambulances and other vehicles to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as well as the Safdarjung, Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan (LNJP), Ram Manohar Lohia (RML), Moolchand and Sir Gangaram hospitals.
Mr U K Bansal, Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry said most of the injured had been admitted to the RML Hospital.
"The condition of some of the injured is reported to be critical. In all cases of injured people where surgery was required the same has been performed or is being done now," he said.
Mr Bansal said two of the injured were in the Intensive Care Unit of RML Hospital, while as many as 51 had undergone surgical or orthopaedical procedures and were out of danger.
He said the investigation of the case has been transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by the Union Government in exercise of its powers under the NIA Act. The NIA has requested the Delhi Government and Delhi Police to associate with and assist them in the investigation.
Mr Bansal said an alert had been sent out to all States in the light of this incident for enforcing all possible precautions in sensitive areas.
He said a team from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Delhi had collected evidence from the spot which was being examined for clues. The
The National Security Guard's (NSG) post-blast investigation team has also collected relevant traces, residue and so on from the spot and is conducting its own forensic examination. The reports of this scientific examination will be available to the NIA shortly, he said.
Mr Bansal said preliminary investigation revealed that the blast created a small crater, about 2- 3 feet wide and about one foot deep, at the place where the explosive charge is suspected to have been kept in a briefcase near the reception centre of the High Court.
"The examination of the scene of blast indicates towards the use of nitrate-based explosives with traces of PETN (explosive)," he said.
He said about two kgs of explosives appeared to have been used for the blast. He said most of the victims had been killed by the blast and not by shrapnels.
He said the Delhi Police had been put on high alert and vigorous investigations were in progress, including checking of guest houses, hotels, bus stands, railway stations and airports. All entry and exist routes are also being put under extensive surveillance and checking. Neighbouring States have also been asked to send their teams of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) experts to examine the scene of the blast and assist in the investigation, he added.
Police vans, fire tenders and ambulances rushed to the spot immediately after the blast and the area was cordoned off. Police requested people to move out of the area so that the security personnel could scan the area and ensure there were no other explosives planted there.
Intelligence officials, bomb disposal squads, disaster management personnel and other officials had rushed to the spot. Sniffer dogs were also deployed.
Heavy rains that began about 90 minutes after the blast hampered the work of the investigative agencies, especially in the matter of gathering evidence from the spot.
As news of the blast spread, relatives of those injured rushed to the hospitals to inquire about their loved ones.
Today's blast came less than four months after a minor explosion had occurred near a car in the parking lot of the High Court on May 25. No one had been injured in that incident.
In the evening, the Delhi Police released the sketches of two suspects in the case. One of them was said to be around 26 years, 5'9" tall with his hair parted in the middle. The other was said to be around 50 years with a light beard and shallow complexion and of stout build.
Mr Chidambaram, Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi were amongst those who visited the scene of the blast and the hospitals.
Mr Chidambam was also in touch with the Prime Minister in Dhaka in this regard. Dr Singh is due to return to the capital this evening.
Dr Singh told journalists in Dhaka that fighting terror was a long war in which all political parties and the people of India had to stand united so that the "scourge of terrorism is crushed".
In the Lok Sabha, Mr Chidambaram said, "On behalf of the Government, I offer my sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I offer my sympathies to those who have been injured and I assure the House that we will extend the best medical treatment to the injured."
Mr Chidambaram said the objective of terrorist groups was to strike fear and to destabilise the country.
"We are clear in our mind that there is no cause that will justify terrorist acts. Government unequivocally condemns the terrorist attack that took place today," he said.
"Delhi is a target of terrorist groups. When Parliament is in session and during certain other times of the year Delhi is placed on high alert. Intelligence agencies constantly share intelligence inputs with Delhi Police. Intelligence pertaining to threats emanating from certain groups was shared with Delhi Police in July, 2011. At this stage it is not possible to identify the group that caused the bomb blast today.
United News of India adds:
Some reports said the Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HuJI) has claimed responsibilty for today's attack, citing Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's death sentence as the reason for the act.
An email received by different media organizations said that HuJI takes responsibility for today's blast in Delhi. HUJI is a Pakistan-based terrorist group. "We take the mail very seriously," said NIA Chief S C Sinha.
The email states, "We own the responsibility of today's blast at high court delhi.....our demand is that Afzal Guru's death sentence should be repealed immediately else we would target major high courts & the Supreme Court of India..........".
Afzal Guru has been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for his role in the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. His mercy petition that asks for his sentence to be commuted to life is pending with President Pratibha Patil. The Home Ministry has reportedly recommended that it be rejected.