Nine people are dead in Pune, India after a bombing at a bakery in Koreagon Park:
Home Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday linked a bombing at a popular bakery in Pune that killed nine people to jailed Pakistan-born American Islamist David Headley and said the terrorists chose to attack a place frequented mainly by foreigners and young Indians.
As three dozen of the 57 injured remained in hospitals in Pune, with one in critical condition and unlikely to survive, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police began probing the worst terror attack in India since November 2008 when Pakistani terrorists killed 166 people in Mumbai.
Chidambaram did not blame any group for the bombing but hinted that Islamists could be involved by pointing out that Headley had surveyed the nearby Osho Ashram and the Jewish Chabad House in 2007-8 when he quietly visited India to pluck out possible spots for attacks for his handlers in the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group.
He said the terrorist who brought the bomb to the bakery — which he described as a “soft target” — might have posed as a customer and quietly left the backpack containing the explosive under a table. “It was a soft target where young people congregate.”
The bomb exploded when a waiter at the bakery tried to open the backpack.
The German Bakery is hugely popular with foreigners but attracts a larger number of Indians on weekends.
Six of the dead have been identified as Indians. Of the three who remain unidentified, the sole woman could be a foreigner, Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Rashmi Shukla told reporters. She said 20 of the injured had been discharged while the others remained in seven hospitals.
Doctors said one man who had suffered multiple fractures and 78 per cent burns was in critical condition and unlikely to survive.
Among the injured were foreigners including four Iranians, two Nepalese and one German, one Sudanese and one Taiwanese. Pune, a city popular with foreigners, was tense but calm on Sunday as Chidambaram flew in early in the day to oversee the investigation.
The name of David Headley in connection to the bombing is interesting. Headley is an American citizen of Pakistani origin who is accused of helping to mastermind the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Here’s a short bio of his which gives the basic details; what is missing from most US coverage of Headley’s case is the suspicion by India that Headley was actually a double agent for the US, and that the CIA knew about Headley’s link to Pakistani militants (Lashkar e Taiba) but did not warn the Indian authorities. Headley had traveled to India extensively before the bombings, allegedly to scope out targets in Mumbai for the attacks – and it seems he may have been scoping out targets in Pune as well.
I have to admit that this attack cuts close to home – Pune is actually my father’s home town (our family surname derives from it) and we have many friends and family living there. This bombing is functionally equivalent in almost every respect to the atrocious attack on the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001. The irony is that just as India must deal with terrorism from Pakistani militants over the issue of Kashmir, Pakistan suffers terrorism from Al Qaeda militants over the issue of Afghanistan. And so it goes, round and round and round…