Death Toll in India Bombings Rises to 200

BOMBAY, India – The death toll in the July 11 serial bombings on Bombay’s commuter trains has risen to 200, with 714 people injured, according to the official estimate released by police.

One hundred twenty seven victims have been identified and a further 56 remain unidentified, the estimate said. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks. Indian authorities have said that the Kashmiri militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) may be involved.

An LeT spokesman has denied any involvement.

The day after the blast, schools, colleges and offices functioned normally in Bombay and the commuter train service targeted in the bombings was operational. Many commuters rode the trains to work, though their numbers were smaller than usual.

The Bombay Stock Exchange, located in the city shrugged off the bombings, with the BSE SENSEX gaining 3 percent on opening, calming fears that economic confidence will be undermined by the blasts.

The Maharashtra state government has announced a roughly $55,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. A number of people, reported to be 350 have been detained for interrogation, but no arrests have been made. Police are working on preparing sketches of possible suspects, news reports say.

The Times of India newspaper reported that Indian intelligence officials believe that Lashkar-e-Toiba and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India were behind the blasts. The Home Ministry confirmed the involvement of Students Islamic Movement of India. The Chief Secretary to the Maharashtra state governemnt, D K Shankaran told Reuters news agency "So far it looks like there was a substantial involvement of Lashkar-e-Toiba with local support."

P.S. Pasricha, director-general of police in Maharashtra, speaking to reporters, said that while it was too early to say who is responsible for the attacks, the coordinated explosions were in the style of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), which has been blamed for carrying out similar attacks before. Indian authorities have accused Kashmiri militant groups such as the Lashkar, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen of attacks on civilians before.

The Bombay underworld is another potential suspect – a series of bombings in Bombay in 1993 which killed 250 people are believed to have been planned by a Mafia don Dawood Ibrahim. India alleges that Ibrahim lives in Pakistan and has long maintained that Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have been trained and supported by Pakistan in the past.

Spokesmen for the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have denied any role in the attacks. The LeT spokesman said that LeT could "feel the pain of the victims" of the attacks as the people of Kashmir have been suffering "the same pain for the last 17 years at the hands of the Indian security forces", adding that an "independent investigation should be carried out… so that the people behind the attack can be exposed".

"Attacks on civilians are not part of our manifesto. We never carried out such attacks nor will allow anyone to do so," said Ehsan Elahi, spokesman for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

— Wikinews