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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Triple Blasts Rocked Varanasi

At least 12 people have been killed after triple blasts rocked parts of Varanasi on Tuesday evening. Several others have been injured in the blasts, which took place between 6:15-6:30 pm (IST).

The Home Ministry has confirmed the blasts occurred at Sankat Mochan Temple and the railway station in the cantonment area. The third blast reportedly took place on the Shiv Ganga Express.

Area cordoned off

The injured have been taken to the SS Hospital in the Benaras Hindu University campus. Senior officials of the district administration have reached the spot and the affected areas have been cordoned off.

The Mulayam Singh Yadav government has announced a compensation of Rs five lakh for the dead and Rs one lakh for those who have been seriously injured.

Blasts rock Varanasi

The first explosion took place outside the temple just after 6 pm (IST) when a large number of devotees were present at the peak evening aarti time. Minutes later, another blast took place outside the room of the stationmaster of the cantonment railway station.

"There's been a blast in front of the stationmaster's room. We have no reports of any casualties yet. Injuries have taken place, but we are not sure of the figures," said Sanjay Goyal, PRO, Northern Railways.

The third blast took place on the Shiv Ganga Express, which was leaving for New Delhi. The blast at the temple set out panic and a near-stampede situation as devotees scrambled to rush out to safety.

The Sankat Mochan is situated on the Durgakund road and is among the country's most ancient temples.

Appeal for calm

Another bomb was also recovered from the Gadolia market in the city.

"Some sick mind must have done it. All communities must come together in this time of terrible tragedy," said Salman Khursheed, President, UPCC.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the blasts and appealed for calm.

A high level meeting of Home Ministry officials is currently underway and Home Minister Shivraj Patil is expected to visit Varanasi. A high alert has been sounded in Delhi and Mumbai.


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