Diwali firework blaze kills eight

Police suspended after explosion at unlicensed factory in northern India.

Indians celebrate Diwali by chanting mantras as they worship electronic gadgets including iPads, laptops and mobile phones at their New Delhi office.
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LUCKNOW // At least eight people were killed and several others injured by an explosion at an illegal fireworks factory in northern India.

The explosion happened late on Monday in Auriya, a small town in Uttar Pradesh state. At the time, employees were working overtime packing the last batches of fireworks before the Hindu festival of Diwali, which began yesterday. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, which also destroyed two nearby homes, police said. The owners did not have a licence to run the factory.

Eight policemen have been suspended for failing to close the factory, which was located about 50 metres from a police station.

As festival celebrations kicked off yesterday, police in New Delhi increased security after intelligence agencies warned of terror attacks.

The Delhi police said that there was still a threat despite last month's arrest of three suspected Indian Mujahideen militants who were allegedly planning attacks in the capital during Diwali.

Meanwhile, at the border with Pakistan, guards seemed to be in a festive mood. India's Border Security Force officials went up to the zero line and exchanged sweets with members of the Pakistan Rangers.

"The BSF shared sweets with our Pakistan counterparts on the occasion of Diwali. They also greeted us," a BSF official said at Attari.

The Attari-Wagah post between the two countries is the only official land route between India and Pakistan in the Punjab sector.

* With additional reporting by IANS