16 hurt in Bangalore terrorist strike: Deputy CM Ashok (Evening Lead)

Bangalore, April 17 (IANS) Sixteen people were injured Wednesday in a bomb blast, near the ruling BJP’s office in this tech hub, which Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashok said was an act of terror.

“A bomb-like material on a motorbike exploded around 10.30 a.m. injuring 16 people, including 11 policemen, near the BJP office at Malleswaram in north-west Bangalore,” state Director-General of Police (DGP) Lalrokhuma Pachau told reporters here.

Rushing to the blast spot, Ashok said the fact that it (explosion) occurred so near to the BJP office clearly indicated that the terrorists wanted to cause maximum damage to its leaders and cadres, besides spreading panic ahead of the state legislative assembly elections May 5.

“As a lot of political activity has been going on since the poll schedule was announced last month, hundreds of our cadres and leaders have been visiting the party office daily and hence they were the target of this terror attack,” Ashok told reporters.

Among the five civilians injured, three were women and two teenagers.

“The injuries are not so serious and no one is in critical condition. They are being treated in a nearby (state-run) hospital,” Pachau asserted.

The motorcycle was parked between two cars. The blast ripped through the motorcycle and gutted both the vehicles parked near it. There was a loud explosion that rattled doors and windows of surrounding houses.

Police cordoned off the entire blast area for study and tests by the state bomb squad, forensic experts and the state-run National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The injured policemen were seated in a mini bus parked nearby as they were on security duty for the upcoming election.

“We do not know the type of bomb that was used. The matter is under investigation. NIA and forensic experts are studying the three charred vehicles and other burnt-out material to find what sort of bomb or materials were used to trigger the blast,” Pachau said.

Appealing to people across the state to remain calm and maintain peace, Ashok said there was no cause for panic and no rumours should be allowed to spread.

“The culprits will be punished. Special teams are being set up to find out who was behind this cowardly act and why the attacks were planned when elections are due,” Ashok observed.

Coincidentally, a similar blast took place exactly three years ago, on April 17, 2010, outside the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in the city centre before an IPL (Indian Premier League) T-20 match.

“The pattern appears to be same. Cause panic and maximum damage to innocent people and their property,” Ashok said.

Bangalore police commissioner R. Auradkar had earlier told reporters that the explosion appeared to have been caused by the bursting of a liquefied petroleum gas cylinder in one of the parked vehicles.

Union minister of state for home R.P.N. Singh appealed to the people not to politicise the Bangalore blasts, even as Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed kicked up a storm on Twitter, claiming that the blasts would aid the BJP in the May 5 assembly polls.

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said Shakeel’s remarks were unbecoming of a senior leader, and asserted that politics should be kept out of terror strikes.

Home Minister Shushilkumar Shinde, who was in Kolkata, said a probe had been ordered into the blast.

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