Bomb blast at a mosque in India

musca.jpgA bomb exploded during Friday prayers today, at the historic mosque of Makkah Masjid in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing at least five people and injuring 35 others in the third major bombing of a Muslim place of worship in India over the past 12 months.

 

“On Friday, at least 7 to 8,000 people perform the salaah (prayers) over there and the fatalities would have been much higher if the bomb took place five-six minutes before,” an MP from Hyderabad said. The explosion created such a panic that those gathered for the prayers started running towards the exit gate of the mosque, said to be over 300 years old

 

Men in blood-soaked long white shirts were seen rushing through the crowds and getting into an ambulance. “I had just said my prayers and there was a blast. Suddenly I was hit by a rock,” Naseeruddin, 45, said as he lay in hospital, his head wrapped in a blood-stained white bandage.

 

“When I looked up, another rock hit my face. Then I fell unconscious,” the person said. Nearby, other wounded men groaned in pain as their relatives kept watch on them. Nobody has claimed responsibility for Friday’s bloodshed.

 

Hyderabad, one of India’s most important IT hubs, has a large Muslim population and several historic mosques.

 

Police said the death toll could rise and two other bombs were defused in the area. After the blast, crowds fought pitched battles with police around the mosque, pelting stones and shouting “Allahu Akbar” Police fired tear gas and opened fire in the air.

 

Friday’s attack was the third major bombing of a mosque in India over the past 12 months. A bomb blast killed 32 people last year at a mosque in the western state of Maharashtra, an attack which police blamed on a banned Islamic group trying to spark Hindu-Muslim tension.

 

Rapid Action Force (RAF) has been deployed to maintain law and order in the communally-sensitive area, where shops and other establishments immediately downed their shutters. Forensic experts have rushed to the spot to assess the nature of the blast.

 

Last year, two bomb explosions at New Delhi’s Jama Masjid, wounded 10 people.

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