Bride-to-be killed in blasts on train at Chennai railway station

Two low intensity-bombs damage three carriages in latest violence as country holds general elections.
Indian police stand guard at the Chennai train station after two bombs went off in a train arriving from Bangalore on Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring nine others. AFP / May 1, 2014
Indian police stand guard at the Chennai train station after two bombs went off in a train arriving from Bangalore on Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring nine others. AFP / May 1, 2014
CHENNAI // Twin bombs planted on a train killed one person and wounded at least nine others in the southern Indian port of Chennai on Thursday, the latest attack during ongoing national elections.

The low-intensity blasts occurred in carriages of an overnight train from Bangalore as it pulled into Chennai central station shortly after 7am.

A 22-year-old woman was killed when one of the devices which had been placed beneath her seat exploded, said Rakesh Misra, general manager of the southern region for Indian Railways.

"At least two people have suffered grievous injuries and seven have minor injuries," Mr Misra told reporters at the scene.

"Civil police... are investigating what kind of bomb it was and why anyone would have placed the bomb."

Security forces cordoned off the blood-splattered platform where a large crowd of onlookers and delayed passengers gathered, while searches by bomb detection teams were stepped up in other stations.

The Chennai police chief, J?K Tripathi, said they were yet to detain any suspects, despite local media reports of one or two people being questioned over the crude explosives.

The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, condemned the attack, saying that "such barbaric acts targeting innocent men, women and children only highlight the desperation and cowardice of those responsible".

Multiple low-intensity explosions are typically the hallmark of the Indian Mujahideen, a home-grown militant network which is thought to have been weakened by the recent arrests of senior figures.

Sixteen people were killed in February 2013 when bombs strapped to bicycles exploded in the southern city of Hyderabad in an attack blamed on the network.

India's election, which ends on May 16 with results, has seen repeated attacks by Maoist rebels based in the forests of central India who have killed at least 25 so far.

One panic-stricken passenger told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency that he saw three to four people "writhing in pain" after the blasts on the train, which was travelling to Guwahati, capital of the satet of Assam in India's north-east.

The injured have been taken to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai.

The dead woman was identified as an employee of Bangalore-based IT outsourcing firm TCS. The company said it was "deeply shocked and saddened at this unfortunate loss of life of our colleague in this tragic incident".

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time," a spokesman said.

The woman's grandmother, named as Rajalakshmi, told PTI that she was travelling home and was set to marry in two months.

"She was to come home today. But now only her body is coming", she was quoted as saying.

Security has been tightened across India as the country holds its six-week general election.

Voting has already taken place in most major cities including Chennai, which went to the polls last week.

K Ramanujam, police director general in Tamil Nadu state, of which Chennai is the capital, said the city may not have been the target of the blasts because the train was running late.

"It is premature to say what kind of device was used in the blast. Damage to the train is not heavy," he said.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister, Jayalalithaa Jayaram, "strongly condemned" the attacks and urged people not to panic.

Families of the victims will receive compensation, the railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters.

The train continued its journey to Guwahati once the three damaged coaches were replaced.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: May 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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