MALEGAON, India // Two crude bombs exploded in separate towns in western India inside crowded markets packed with shoppers, killing six people and wounding 45 others, police said. An eight-year-old girl was among five people killed and 30 wounded late on Monday in the explosion in Malegaon town, about 300km northeast of Mumbai, police said. Another small bomb exploded at a market in Gujarat state's Modasa town, killing one person and wounding 15, as Muslim shoppers were breaking their Ramadan fast, police said.
Malegaon police initially said the blast was caused by a gas cylinder, but police officer S Rajvanshi it was caused by a bomb placed on a motorcycle outside a restaurant. Police were later forced to fire in the air to disperse an angry crowd that surrounded a police station demanding answers, Mr Rajvanshi said. "Police fired in the air after 22 policemen were injured in stone pelting by the mob," Mr Rajvanshi said. Malegaon has long been the scene of violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims, who make up 75 per cent of the town's 500,000 residents.
Two years ago, 31 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in a deadly attack on a mosque in Malegaon. No one immediately claimed responsibility for both attacks. In July, the Indian Mujahideen group claimed responsibility for a series of blasts that killed at least 45 people in Gujarat. Monday's attack came hours after police in Lucknow arrested an alleged member of the Indian Mujahideen in connection with some of the recent bombings, police spokesman Suren Shrivastava said. In addition to the Gujarat attacks, the group also claimed responsibility for Sept 13 explosions in New Delhi that killed 21 people and wounded 100, bombings in the western city of Jaipur in May that killed 61 people, and a series of explosions in the northern Indian cities of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad last November that killed 16 people.