Jessica Hagstrom

Two bombs exploded Thursday in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing at least 12 people and injuring around 50. The bombs were attached to two bicycles located 150 meters (500 feet) apart, and detonated outside a movie theater and a bus stop in a crowded shopping area. One bomb killed eight people; the other killed three. A third bomb was reportedly found unexploded at another movie theater. Authorities have called the attack an act of terrorism.

Officers from the National Investigation Agency and the National Security Guard were flown to Hyderabad to help with the investigation. Police officials ceased all movement in and out of the area, and all major cities in India were placed on high alert, including Hyderabad, Kerala and Delhi.

The central government reportedly had information that there was potential for Explosive Incident Hyderabad Indiaan attack in retaliation for the recent hanging of Afzal Guru, the man convicted of the 2001 Parliament attack. They had warned state governments of this possibility, but did not have specific intelligence about intended locations. Over the past two days, central security agencies sent advisories to tighten security and named several groups who might launch attacks. No group has taken responsibility at this time. 

The MSA Research and Intelligence Analysis Team has been following this situation
closely, and has identified the following key points:

  • Initial reports on social media speculated that the devices were placed in Tiffin boxes, or silver lunch pails used in India. However, there are no confirmed details at this time regarding the devices. Most likely, they were comprised of homemade materials and well concealed. Operatives generally try to disguise explosives to easily blend in with the surrounding area, making them difficult to detect.

  • The coordinated explosions occurred less than ten minutes apart, at 7:01pm and 7:06pm, near one of the largest fruit markets in the district of Diksukhnagar. The bombs detonated during rush hour in a popular crowded area, possibly to maximize the casualty count.

  • Hyderabad is the fourth largest city in India and a major global IT center. Companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. have local offices there.

  • This is the first major attack in Hyderabad since two bombs exploded in Lumbini Amusement Park and the Gokul Chat Bhandar restaurant in August 2007, killing more than 40 people.

At this time, there is widespread speculation that the Indian Mujahideen, an Islamic militant group, is responsible for yesterday’s attack. They have previously struck throughout India using similar tradecraft. With a fairly even religious split between Muslims (41%) and Hindus (55%), Hyderabad has long been plagued with religious tensions. The threat of retaliatory attacks exists.

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(Image Credit: The Washington Post, Asia and Pacific)