A series of near simultaneous explosions rocked the Indian capital Saturday evening, tearing through a bus and two markets jammed with people shopping for gifts ahead of an upcoming Hindu festival. At least 58 people were killed, officials said. Some of the fatality estimates were as high as 65.
Scores more were wounded in the three blasts that sent shards of glass, wood and all manner of goods flying. Police declared a state of emergency and ordered all the markets in the city closed.
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The Foreign Ministry reported that one Israeli tourist, Meir Karmian, was lightly injured in the blasts, and was expected to be flown back to Israel late Saturday night.
Karmian, who was traveling in India with his wife and his two-and-a-half year old son, was hurt by flying glass.
Staff at the embassy in New Delhi
, which went on emergency footing immediately after the blast, were checking the hospitals to see if any other Israelis were wounded in the attack at the marketplaces, popular spots for tourists, while people form Beit Chabad in New Delhi were compiling names of Israelis who were safe and sound in the city.
Israel's ambassador to India David Danieli advised Israeli tourists to stay away from busy marketplaces. Thousands of Israeli tourists are believed to be in India, though the Foreign Ministry did not have a precise figure.
While urging people to remain calm, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
denounced the apparently coordinated bombings as terrorist attacks.
"These are dastardly acts of terrorism," Singh said in a brief televised statement.
"We shall defeat their nefarious designs and will not allow them to succeed. We are resolute in our commitment to fighting terrorism in all forms."
Asked who was responsible, he would only say "there are several clues."
However, the Indian government faces opposition from dozens of militant groups - particularly Kashmiri separatists, some of whom also oppose the peace process between Pakistan and India.
Early Sunday, however, India and Pakistan made another step toward peace, agreeing to open the militarized border in Kashmir region
to help victims of South Asia's devastating Oct. 8 quake, Pakistan's
Foreign Ministry said.
In the agreement, which followed 12 hours of talks in Pakistan's capital, the two sides agreed to open crossings beginning Nov. 7 at five points across the Line of Control, the cease-fire boundary that divides the Himalayan region between the archrivals.
The agreement should help bring food, shelter and medical aid to victims of the earthquake, which killed about 80,000 people, most of them in Pakistan.
In New Delhi, the first blast took place about 5:45 p.m in the central Paharganj market, which was crowded with shoppers ahead of Tuesday's Diwali
festival, a Hindu holiday where families gather to exchange gifts, light candles and celebrate with fireworks. Minutes later, two more blasts exploded at the Sarojini Nagar market and on a bus.
"When I got up, there were people everywhere - they were bleeding and screaming," said shop owner Anil Gupta about 45 minutes after the blast as he sifted through the wreckage of his jewelry store. Scattered around his feet were bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil said 39 people were killed in the blast at the Sarojini Nagar market.
Sham Lal, an official with the Delhi fire department, said at least 16 people died in the Paharganj market blast, and another three were killed on a bus in the Govindpuri neighborhood. He had no further details.
Pakistan strongly condemned the attacks, calling them "barbaric" and a "criminal act of terrorism."
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
said the blasts "appear to have been targeted at heavily populated areas to produce maximum carnage."
"This is yet another example of terrorists' cynical and callous disregard for human life," Straw added. "On behalf of the British government, I would like to offer the people of India my support and deepest sympathy."
Witnesses said the blasts rocked entire neighborhoods.