x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Indian PM urges calm during visit to Hyderabad bombing site

Opposition party says Manmohan Singh's visit to city and bomb victims is a 'non-event' and blames attacks on systemic security failings.

Hindu priests on Sunday perform a ceremony in Allahabad for the 16 victims of Hyderabad bombings last week. Jitendra Prakash / Reuters
Hindu priests on Sunday perform a ceremony in Allahabad for the 16 victims of Hyderabad bombings last week. Jitendra Prakash / Reuters

NEW DELHI // The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, yesterday appealed for calm as he flew to Hyderabad and visited some of the 117 people injured in twin bombings last week in which 16 people were killed.

Mr Singh also visited the blast site in Dilsukhnagar, where two bicycle bombs exploded within a few minutes of each other outside a cinema and near a bus stand on Thursday evening.

The prime minister met some of the blast survivors and medical staff in two city hospitals and expressed his condolences.

"It is most important that in this hour of grief the people should maintain calm," he said.

"I am happy that the people of Hyderabad have refused to be provoked by this nefarious incident," the prime minister said. "I pray for the speedy recovery of those who have been injured, to those who have died I send my condolences to all the bereaved families."

Hyderabad, one of the major hubs of India's booming software industry, is the capital of coastal Andhra Pradesh state.

The premier vowed to bring to justice the perpetrators of what he called a "dastardly" attack, the first major bombings in India since 2011. His Congress party-led government was criticised in parliament on Friday by the opposition, which said the bombings had exposed systemic security failures at a time when India was on heightened alert.

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party mocked the premier's one-day trip to Hyderabad, saying the blasts were a result of the Indian government's failure to tackle terrorism.

"The prime minister's visit to Hyderabad is a non-event," a BJP leader, Balbir Punj, said in New Delhi. "In fact, if he and his government had been sensitive to the issue of terrorism in this country ... this attack would not have taken place."

The Andhra Pradesh home minister, P Sabita Indra Reddy, said investigators had found "vital clues" but gave no details.

Newspapers have pointed the finger at the Indian Mujahideen, a banned militant outfit that has claimed responsibility for previous attacks.

The fitting of the explosive devices to bicycles was similar to other attacks by the group, according to investigators quoted in local media reports.

The home-grown group has links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant outfit blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that claimed 166 lives, according to Indian intelligence officials.

New Delhi has long accused its neighbour of aiding and abetting the militant groups who have carried out attacks on Indian soil - a charge that Pakistan rejects.