Friday, May 18, 2007


How Do You Like Me Now

HYDERABAD, India — An explosion ripped through a historic mosque as Friday prayers were ending in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing five people and wounding several others, police said.

Many of those injured in the explosion at the 17th-century Mecca Masjid were severely wounded, and police officer Balwinder Singh warned the death could rise.

Top Indian official says mosque blast caused by a bomb and that police have found two other unexploded bombs.

About 10,000 people usually attend Friday prayers at the mosque, which is located in a Muslim neighborhood, and there was chaos outside the mosque after the explosion.

There was chaos outside the mosque following the attack with throngs of people gathered in the streets, some chanting angry slogans.

Ambulances struggled to get through the crowds and ferry the wounded to hospitals, aided by police in full riot gear who were trying to control the situation.

Minutes after the blast, Muslims angered by what they said was a lack of police protection began chanting slogans - a situation that quickly deteriorated into mobs throwing stones at police, who dispersed the crowd with baton charges and tear gas.

The bombing and ensuing clash between worshippers and police raised fears of wider Hindu-Muslim violence in the city, which has long been plagued by communal tensions -- and occasional spasms of religious bloodletting.

Many of those injured in the explosion at the 17th-century Mecca Masjid were severely wounded, and the city's police chief, Balwinder Singh, warned the death toll could rise.

Soon after the blast, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state, where Hyderabad is located, appealed for calm between Hindus and Muslims.

Reddy called the bombing, which killed at least five people and wounded 25, an act of "intentional sabotage on the peace and tranquility in the country."

He told reporters in New Delhi, where he was meeting with federal officials on unrelated business, that one bomb went off around 1:30 p.m. and that police soon after found and defused two other bombs.

About 10,000 people usually attend Friday prayers at the mosque, which is located in a Muslim neighbourhood of Hyderabad, and the blast sparked a panic.

"I was very close to the spot of the blast," said Abdul Quader, a 30-year-old who sustained light injuries to his legs.

"As soon as prayers ended, we were about to get up, there was a huge deafening blast sending bodies into the air," he continued. "People started running helter-skelter, there was such confusion. People were bleeding, running around in a very bad condition."

There was chaos outside the mosque following the attack. Throngs of people gathered in the streets, some chanting angry slogans and throwing rocks at police, who fired tear gas and tried to disperse the crowd with batons so ambulances could ferry the wounded to hospitals.