(Photo: After the blast in Varanasi December 7, 2010/Stringer)
India said Wednesday a home-grown Islamist group with ties to Pakistani militants was behind a bomb attack in one of its holiest cities, Varanasi, and local media reported two people were questioned over the attack. Home Secretary Gopal Pillai said traces of explosives were found at the site of Tuesday evening’s blast in the northern city that killed a two-year old girl and injured 37 Hindu worshippers and foreign tourists.
Pillai said the crude bomb was set off by the Indian Mujahideen (IM), a local group India says has been trained by militants based in Pakistan, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The IM claimed responsibility for the attack in an email to local media, police said. That email was traced to a Mumbai suburb and two people were questioned over it, local media said.
“The main players of Indian Mujahideen are based in Pakistan and they are definitely running the game from there,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjeev Dayal told a press conference. Pillai has said it was “too premature” to say if individuals or groups operating from Pakistan were involved.
India remains jittery about the threat of militant strikes, especially since the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 which killed 166 people and raised tensions with arch rival Pakistan. New Delhi says Pakistan-based groups aid and train militants to carry out attacks against India, a claim Islamabad rejects.
(Photo: Boats on the the river Ganges near holy “ghats” (banks) in Varanasi July 21, 2009/Jayanta Shaw)