Serial bomb blasts leave 80 dead in India
In a top tourist spot
India is on high alert after a series of near-simultaneous explosions killed at least 80 people and wounded 200 others in a top tourist spot, government and local officials told CNN-IBN.
Bicycles and rickshaws were strewn about the streets, with pools of blood nearby, in the northwestern city of Jaipur.
Motorcycles, pieces of which were found at nearly every bomb site, appear to have been used in the attacks, said Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Indian government officials -- including Minister of State for Home Affairs Shriprakash Jaiswal -- were quick to label it a terrorist attack.
The eight explosions started at about 7:30 p.m. (1400 GMT) and detonated within 12 minutes of each other, police said.
The bombs exploded within about 500 meters (0.3 mile) of each other in Jaipur`s old city, which is frequented by tourists. See the aftermath of the explosions. »
An ninth bomb was defused, according to H.G. Raghavendra, a Jaipur city official. He described all the bombs as "medium intensity."
"There is no reason to panic," he told CNN-IBN. "Everything is under control."
One blast struck near Hanuman Temple, which was crowded with Hindus worshipping Hanuman, the religion`s monkey god.
Another struck near a market area inside Jaipur`s walled city where tourists and locals frequent restaurants and shops.
Jaipur, known as the "pink city," is about 260 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of India`s capital, New Delhi.
Many of the casualties were taken to SMS Hospital, the largest government hospital in Jaipur.
People gathered outside the hospital to hear news about friends and relatives; the hospital issued an urgent appeal for blood donations.
The state of Rajasthan, where Jaipur is located, was placed on alert, local officials said. Delhi police officials said they too were on high alert after the blasts and were receiving regular updates from Jaipur on developments in the investigation.
The Deputy Chief Minister for the state of Maharashtra, R.R. Patil, said the entire state was also on high alert. Mumbai is in the state of Maharashtra.
The attack was immediately condemned by the United States. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the attacks were "quite clearly an act intended to take innocent lives."
He told reporters at his daily briefing that Washington was still collecting information, and could not "offer insight into who may be responsible."
According to the U.S. State Department, India ranks among the countries where terrorism is most common.
"The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, attacks by extreme leftist Naxalites and Maoists in eastern and central India, assaults by ethno-linguistic nationalists in the northeastern states, and terrorist strikes nationwide by Islamic extremists took more than 2,300 lives this year," the agency said.
It said India`s counterterrorism efforts "are hampered by outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems," and described the country`s court system as "slow, laborious, and prone to corruption."