x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bangalore bombing injures 16

A member of India's main opposition party says bombers who injured 16 people in Bangalore were trying to derail next month's state elections. Suryatapa Bhattacharya reports

Police and forensic officials inspect the scene of a blast near the office of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bangalore.
Police and forensic officials inspect the scene of a blast near the office of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bangalore.

NEW DELHI // A member of India's main opposition party said that the people responsible for a bombing that injured 16 people in Bangalore yesterday were trying to derail next month's state elections.

The bomb exploded early in the morning a short distance from the Karnataka state headquarters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"The incident is an act of terror," said R Ashok, Karnataka's home minister, and a BJP member.

"The fact it was so near to our office clearly indicates the perpetrators wanted to cause damage to our party members, cause panic and disrupt the forthcoming state election," he added.

The BJP is in opposition at the national level but the party rules the state of Karnataka, of which Bangalore is the capital. Karnataka will go to the polls on May 5 to elect a new local government.

At least 16 people were injured in the blast, including eight police officers, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Witnesses said that the bomb shook nearby buildings and set several cars ablaze.

S Prakash, a BJP spokesman, said that after they heard a "huge sound", the political party workers saw "two or three vehicles on fire".

"Some people were lying on the ground injured," he added.

Bangalore's police commissioner, Raghavendra Auradkar, said initial reports that the "low-intensity blast" had been caused by an exploding cooking gas cylinder were false.

"What kind of an explosion I can't say at this stage," he said. "We initially thought it was a gas-cylinder explosion. We believe it is a motorcycle blast — a motorcycle is destroyed.

"The motorcycle was parked next to three cars on the main street. The intensity of the blast ripped it in two."

Police officials tasked with guarding the political office were the ones who were hurt, but their injuries were not serious, Mr Auradkar added.

RPN Singh, India's junior minister for home affairs, said officials "were looking at all the possibilities" and cautioned people not to jump to conclusions about who might have been behind the attack.

Taking place only three weeks before the local elections, the bombing prompted a heated debate between rival political parties.

"If the blast near BJP's office in Bangalore is a terror attack, it will certain help the BJP politically on the eve of the election," Shakeel Ahmad, a spokesman for the ruling Congress party said in a tweet.

Meenakshi Lekhi, a BJP spokeswoman, criticised Mr Ahmad and the Congress party and said the remarks were "uncalled for".

In 2010, two bombs exploded in a cricket stadium in Bangalore, injuring 15 people.

In July 2008, nine low-intensity bombs, triggered by timers, exploded across the city, killing two people and injuring 20.

Bangalore is India's technology hub, home to some of the world's biggest software companies and research facilities.

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae

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