A bomb ripped through a restaurant popular with tourists in the western Indian city of Pune yesterday, killing nine people and casting a shadow over the resumption of Indo-Pakistan peace talks. The Indian home secretary G K Pillai said earlier reports that a foreigner was among the dead had yet to be confirmed, but added that four Iranians, two Sudanese, one Taiwanese, one German and two Nepalese were among 57 people injured.
It was the first major attack on Indian soil since the November 2008 Mumbai massacre - blamed on the banned, Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba - which prompted New Delhi to suspend dialogue with Islamabad. The South Asian rivals had agreed just last week to resume talks, but the Pune blast has triggered immediate opposition calls for that decision to be reviewed. "What was being targeted was a soft target where both foreigners and Indians, especially young people, congregate," India's home minister P Chidambaram told reporters today after visiting the blast site and the wounded in hospital.
The bomb, apparently left under a table in a backpack, went off in the German Bakery,a popular eatery in the Koregaon Park area of the city. Pune, a key education hub with a growing IT industry, is about 100 kilometres south-east of Mumbai. An unnamed waiter, injured in the blast, told the NDTV 24x7 news channel from his hospital bed that he alerted his manager after seeing an unaccompanied red and black bag.
"My employer told me to go find out who it belonged to. While I was on my way, someone outside asked for water. It was while I was getting the bottles that the bomb went off," he said. "The men and women sitting there all died," he added. Another eyewitness described a scene of carnage, with body parts littered around the immediate site of the blast. "There is no German Bakery anymore," he said "There were bodies everywhere. We tried to help carry them into the ambulances."