Delhi blast claims 11 lives, HuJI owns up responsibility

A high intensity blast outside the Delhi High Court on Wednesday morning claimed 11 lives and left 76 injured. This is the second terror attack near the High Court in four months. The earlier attack in May was a low intensity one with no casualties. Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), an Islamist fundamental outfit operating mostly from neighbouring Bangladesh, has sent out e-mails to several news organisation claiming responsibility for the attack.

The bomb was placed in a suitcase near gate number five of the high court where more than 200 people had gathered to collect passes to enter the premises. Wednesday is a busy day at the court since Public Interest Litigations are filed on the day. The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals -- Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital.

The blast caused a four feet deep crater at the spot, indicating it was a powerful bomb. The police said there were traces of ammonium nitrate and pentaerythritol tetranitrate and it appeared to be a sophisticated bomb.

 Delhi blast claims 11 lives, HuJI owns up responsibility

Security personnel secure the site of the blast outside the Delhi High Court in New Delhi on Wednesday . Subhav Shukla/PTI

There was no CCTV camera at the sensitive location. The Delhi Police has released sketches of two suspects based on descriptions provided by eyewitnesses. The metal detectors at the gates were also not functioning.

The e-mail sent by HuJI, says the death sentence awarded to Afzal Guru, the 2001 Parliament attack convict, be revoked. It threatened to target major high courts and the Supreme Court of India if it was not done. The veracity of the mail is yet to be ascertained. The case has been handed over to National Investigating Agency (NIA), which will supervise the probe with a special 20-member team, according to government sources.

"We take the mail very seriously," said NIA chief SC Sinha.

Speaking in Parliament, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the government will not be intimidated by terrorist groups and it is "determined to track down the perpetrators of this horrific crime and bring them to justice".

He regretted that the blast happened despite sharing of intelligence among several agencies. "Intelligence agencies constantly share intelligence inputs with Delhi Police. Intelligence pertaining to threats emanating from certain groups was shared with Delhi Police in July, 2011," he said.

Reacting from Bangladesh where he is on a tour, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the as "a cowardly act of a terrorist nature". He added, "We will deal with it... we will never succumb to the pressure of terrorism."

"This is a long war in which all political parties, all the people of India have to stand united so that the scourge of terrorism is crushed," he said.

Meanwhile, the BJP and the Left parties have asked the government to explain whether there was any intelligence failure.

"We outrightly condemn it. Why is the government not taking action? The incident has happened right in the heart of the capital, adjacent to India Gate and outside a gate of the Delhi High Court. There is no security and there is no intelligence beef-up," said BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad, adding, "Terrorists come with impunity and kill people with impunity."

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri said, "The failure of the government and intelligence agencies is a matter of serious concern. It is imperative that the government take effective measures to identify and apprehend the people involved. Only this will assure the people of their security."

Turning the heat on Chidambaram, BJP president Nitin Gadkari asked him to stop attacking political opponents and focus on fighting terrorism instead.

"That terrorists could strike in the very heart of the seat of power of the central government with impunity is a serious matter and has exposed the tall claims of Delhi Police and the intelligence agencies about the safety of the national capital," Gadkari said in a statement.

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Updated Date: Sep 07, 2011 20:08:25 IST