MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
In India today, at least 60 people are dead after explosions in the city of Jaipur. And the death toll could rise. The bombs went off in crowded streets within 20 minutes of one another. Over the last few years, India has been hit by some very large bombings, but this is the worst attack in more than a year.
NPR's Philip Reeves is following the story from the capital, New Delhi.
PHILIP REEVES: There were at least half a dozen bombs. They weren't unusually large, but in the congested alleys of an old Indian walled city, they were enough to maim and kill more than 200 people.
The bombs detonated soon after the sun set on Jaipur. This is the so-called Pink City, whose palaces, forts, and bazaars lure in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Some bombs went off in markets. One blew up near a Hindu temple full of people. There was panic and mayhem, and then a spreading fear. India hasn't seen an attack of this scale in more than a year. The country responded with shock and anger.
Unidentified Group: (Foreign language spoken)
REEVES: TV news footage from the scene shows lifeless bodies draped in white sheets being carried away on blood-drenched stretchers. It also shows the twisted frames of bicycles. The bombs were reportedly attached to these. The world was quick to speak out. The U.S. called the bombings a vicious attack of terrorism. At home, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the bombings and appealed for calm. Security was tightened in New Delhi, seat of the federal government, and in the commercial capital, Mumbai.
PRAKASH SINGH: We have to build an environment where the terrorists (unintelligible), which it does not.
REEVES: That's security expert Prakash Singh, speaking to the Indian news channel CNN-IBN. Speaking to the same station, a former director of India's foreign intelligence agency, B Raman, said the attacks confirmed the scale of the security problem these days facing India.
Unidentified Man: There are a large number of sleeper cells to train the terrorists, people who are trained in the fabrication of explosive devices and the orchestration of explosions who are still at large. This is something should be a warning to all of us.
REEVES: In Jaipur, extra police were dispatched to areas where Hindus and Muslims co-exist, where tensions are reportedly high. Suspicion in India after such attacks generally falls on Islamist militant groups seeking to oust India from Kashmir. Vote-conscious politicians tend to be quick to accuse elements within the country's Muslim neighbors, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Today was no different. But Dr. Ajai Sahni(ph) of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi said this time the tension would likely focus on one recent incident in particular, an exchange of fire between Pakistani and Indian forces along the line of control that separates the disputed territory of Kashmir. It was the first big shootout since the cease fire of 2002.
AJAI SAHNI: This was seen as a very, very dramatic break from the past. This occurred within the last one week. And there obviously people who are trying to derive some kind of linkage with that incident and the present.
REEVES: In just over a week, India's foreign minister is slated to go to Pakistan, now under a new increasingly fragile coalition government. Sahni skeptical about the peacemaking efforts between the two countries, but he doesn't believe today's events will make much difference.
SAHNI: As far as the peace process is concerned, however, whatever its merit, attacks of this nature in the past have had no significant bearing on the peace process. And it will continue to grind along in the future as well.
REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, New Delhi.
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