16 injured in Bangalore terror blast; probe ordered (Roundup)

Bangalore/Kolkata/New Delhi, 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. Ashoka dubbed an act of terror, while Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde ordered a probe to identify its perpetrators.

“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.

After surveying the devastated area, Ashoka said the explosion near the BJP’s state unit office in a residential locality revealed that the suspected terrorists wanted to inflict maximum damage to the party leaders and cadres and cause panic ahead of the state legislative assembly poll May 5.

“With hundreds of our cadres and leaders visiting the party office daily in view of the upcoming election and heightened political activity, it appears the terrorists wanted to target them by triggering an explosion in the vicinity,” Ashoka said.

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

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

The stolen Suzuki motorcycle with a fake Tamil Nadu registration number (TN-R-3767) was parked between two cars. The blast ripped through the motorcycle and gutted both the vehicles. The explosion rattled doors and windows of surrounding houses.

Taking serious note of the bomb blast in the poll-mode state, Shinde told reporters in Kolkata that he would consult the Karnataka government and the state police on the inquiry to find out who was behind the dastardly act.

“We certainly will start an inquiry. I will have an interaction with the Karnataka government and its police department,” Shinde said.

Police cordoned off the blast area to collect evidence and enable forensic experts to conduct tests for clues and a thorough probe by the state-run National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Policemen who were injured in the blast were seated in a mini bus parked nearby. They were on security duty to guard the BJP office ahead of the assembly election.

“We do not know the type of bomb material that was used. The blast is under investigation. NIA and forensic experts are analysing the three charred remains (of the vehicles) to find what kind of chemicals were used to trigger the blast,” Pachau said.

Appealing to people across the state to remain calm and maintain peace, Ashoka said there was no cause for panic and not spread rumours.

“The culprits will be punished. Special teams are being set up to identify who was behind this cowardly act and why the attacks were planned when elections are due in the next three weeks,” Ashoka said.

Coincidentally, a similar blast took place exactly three years ago April 17, 2010, outside the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in the city centre before an Indian Premier League T-20 match between hosts Royal Challenges Bangalore (RCB) and Mumbai Indians (MI).

“The pattern appears to be same. To cause panic and maximum damage to innocent lives and their property,” Ashoka added.

In a related development, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh in New Delhi appealed to the people not to politicise the Bangalore blast, even as Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed from Uttar Pradesh kicked up a storm on Twitter, claiming that the blasts would aid the BJP in the May 5 assembly poll.

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

Though the blast rattled state police and set off alarm bells coming as it does two days after terror blasts in the US at the Boston Marathon Monday, normal life was not disrupted in other parts of the city, with hundreds of IT and biotech firms working as usual.

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