13 dead in Mumbai blasts, 80 injured
Mumbai - Three simultaneous blasts rocked India's financial hub Mumbai on Wednesday evening, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 80 in what the government called a "co-ordinated" terror strike.
"I have been informed that 13 are dead, and 81 injured," Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters.
Mumbai police confirmed three blasts, one in central Mumbai and two in the south of the city, which is still scarred by the militant attacks of 2008 blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
"This was a co-ordinated attack by terrorists," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi.
"The entire city of Mumbai has been put on high alert. I would appeal to the people of Mumbai and people all over the country to remain calm," Chidambaram said, adding that federal investigative teams were being rushed to the city.
The targets included a predominantly middle class residential area, a wholesale gold market and a building housing diamond traders and jewellery shops, with the explosions reported at rush-hour, at around 18:30 (13:00 GMT).
"It is clear that the attackers wanted to hurt as many as people as possible. A lot of people are injured," a minister in the Maharashtra state government, Chhagan Bhujbal, told reporters.
In November 2008, 10 Islamist militants attacked multiple targets in Mumbai, including five-star hotels, in a deadly assault that killed 166 people.
India blamed the the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the assault and broke off a peace dialogue with Islamabad. Talks between the two nuclear-armed rivals only resumed earlier this year.
Eyewitnesses outside the diamond trader building in South Mumbai said a car bomb had exploded at around 18:45 (13:15 GMT) when the area was packed with office people returning home from work.
"There were lots of people badly injured. We don't know how many are dead but it was a very big blast," Nimesh Mehta, 38, who runs a local food stall, told AFP.
"It was a cowardly attack," said Ravinder Singh, 48, the owner of a spare parts shop. "These were innocent people. Poor as well as rich."
The last major bombing incident in India was in February last year in the western city of Pune, when a blast at a packed restaurant killed nine people including one foreigner.
In 2006, a series of seven high-powered blasts on suburban trains in Mumbai killed 187 commuters and left 800 injured - an attack that India also blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
Islamabad swiftly condemned on Wednesday's attacks in a statement issued by the Pakistani foreign ministry.