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Mumbai commuters wait for a train the day after the bombing.

Mumbai commuters wait for a train the day after the bombing.

An unidentified person who was injured in a bomb blast at the Mahim railway station walks away from the site, in Bombay, India, Tuesday, July 11, 2006. (AP Photo)

An unidentified person who was injured in a bomb blast at the Mahim railway station walks away from the site, in Bombay, India, Tuesday, July 11, 2006. (AP Photo)

India vows bombers will not win war on terror

Updated Wed. Jul. 12 2006 11:28 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed on Wednesday that the nation's enemies will not win the war on terror, one day after eight near-simultaneous bombings rocked Mumbai's commuter train network, leaving 200 dead and more than 700 wounded.

"This is not the first time that the enemies of our nation have tried to undermine our peace and prosperity," Singh said in a televised address. "These elements have not yet understood that we Indians can stand united."

"The wheels of our economy will move on," he said. "We will win this war against terror."

R. Patil, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra state told lawmakers that 200 bodies had been found in the twisted wreckage.

Officials say more than 700 people were wounded as investigators continue to comb the wreckage for clues.

"We are just trying to establish what kind of explosives were used and where exactly the bombs were placed but it appears they were kept in the luggage racks," police inspector Yeshwant Patil told The Associated Press.

His evaluation bolsters initial reports that most of the victims from Tuesday's bombings on the city's rail network suffered head and chest injuries, apparently from blasts that came from above.

Shaken commuters overcame their fears to return to the trains as services resumed in India's financial capital, which serve some 6 million a day, making it one of the world's most crowded rail networks.

"As far as the train service is concerned, things are remarkably back to normal. I'm just surrounded by colleagues now who have begun to arrive through the morning and most trains are actually running," Mumbai-based Greg Beitchman told CTV Newsnet.

"Quite a bit of commercial activity in the city, as well, and in fact the stock markets are functioning, so I would say that the city is bouncing back quite quickly."

However, the trains were markedly emptier on Wednesday as some preferred to walk or take their vehicles to public transit.

"This is a political act of terror designed to strike at India's railroads, which are the lifeblood of the country," terror expert Eric Margolis told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.

Tuesday's bombings appeared co-ordinated to inflict maximum carnage in the bustling city of 16 million at the height of evening rush-hour.

The first bomb hit a train at Bandra station at 6:20 p.m. The others followed in quick succession down the line of the Western Railway at or near stations at Khar, Jogeshwari, Mahim, Mira Road, Matunga and finally Borivili, which was struck by two blasts at 6:35 p.m., according to the Star News channel. However, other reports gave different timelines.

Indian security sources were quoted as blaming leading Kashmiri militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba based in Pakistan, or Army of the Righteous, which has been fingered for several major attacks in recent years.

Lashkar is among the Kashmiri groups that have in the past employed near-simultaneous explosions to attack Indian cities.

"It is difficult to say definitely as this stage, but Lashkar-e-Tayyaba can be involved going by the style of attack," said P.S. Pasricha, the director general of police for Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located.

But the militant group denied any responsibility.

"These are inhuman and barbaric acts. Islam does not permit the killing of innocent people," a man who identified himself as "doctor Ghaznavi," spokesman of the Lashkar-e-Taiba said.

"Blaming LeT for such inhuman acts is an attempt by the Indian security agencies to defame Kashmiri mujahideens (freedom fighters)," he said in telephone calls made to newspaper offices in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir.

Pasricha described the bombings as an attempt to derail India's future.

"The country is on the path to progress," Pasricha said. "The next 10 to 15 years belong to our country so naturally some anti-national elements would not be very comfortable with that kind of thing."

On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna repeated Indian demands that Pakistan crack down on the militants, who New Delhi says operate from Islamabad's part of Kashmir.

"We would urge Pakistan to take urgent steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on the territory under its control and act resolutely against individuals and groups who are responsible for terrorists' violence," he said.

Indian officials have been hesitant to blame Pakistan in the wake of the bombings, although many suspect the attacks were the work of Kashmiri militants trained, armed and funded by Islamabad.

But Pakistan denies those claims, saying it only offers the rebels diplomatic and moral support.

More than 24 hours after the bombings, many were still frantically searching for news of their relatives, and pouring over lists of the dead and wounded posted by police. However, many remained unidentified.

Commuter transit systems have been targeted by terrorists in recent years, with bombers killing 191 in Madrid in 2004 and 52 in London last year.

Mumbai also suffered a string of bomb blasts in 1993 that included the city's stock exchange, killing more than 250 people and wounding more than 1,000.

The Mumbai blasts took place hours after suspected Islamist militants killed eight people, seven of them tourists, in five grenade attacks in Srinagar.

Pakistan, India's rival over the disputed territory of Kashmir, quickly condemned the bombings, but analysts said a Kashmiri link could slow the peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Kashmir has been split between Hindu-dominated India and Muslim-dominated Pakistan after the two nuclear rivals gained independence from Britain in 1947, but both claim it in full.

 

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