Bombs Rock Varanasi, Suspected as Sectarian Violence

March 8, 2006

Source: The New York Times

On March 8, 2006 The New York Times reported, "In what the police called a terrorist attack, apparently coordinated explosions in Varanasi, the Hindu holy city, killed at least 15 people on Tuesday evening and injured dozens more, raising the familiar specter of sectarian violence. The first blast came as devotees gathered for evening prayer at a 16th-century temple dedicated to Sankat Mochan. Tuesdays are particularly busy there, when special services are held for the Hindu monkey deity, Hanuman, who is known as the Liberator From Troubles. The second blast went off 45 minutes later at the main train station, Reuters reported. It was unclear how many people died in each place. Unexploded bombs were also found across Varanasi, including the maze of narrow streets in the oldest quarters of the 2,500-year-old city. Varanasi, also known as Benares, has a Hindu majority and a large minority of Muslims. 'We suspect it is a terrorist act,' Yashpal Singh, director general of the city police, said by telephone. 'We are on high alert for tomorrow.' Mr. Singh said there were no clues yet to the cause of the explosions, nor had anyone claimed responsibility for them. He put the number of injured at 101, although there were conflicting reports from other police sources quoted by news agencies."