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Bomb Attacks in India Mean Tight Security Ahead of Festivals


India prepares to celebrate two major festivals this week under heavy security following Saturday's triple bomb attack in the capital, which killed at least 59 people and injured scores more. An obscure Kashmiri militant group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but analysts say the group may be a front for a better-known organization.

Police have detained at least 10 people in connection with the attack and say they are using every means possible to identify who planted the bombs in two crowded markets and on a bus.

The bombs exploded as holidaymakers prepared for the Hindu festival Diwali, and the Muslim festival of Eid, which take place this week.

On Sunday, a little-known Kashmiri separatist organization, Islami Inqilabi Mahaz, or "Islamic Revolutionary Group," claimed responsibility for the attack - an assertion authorities have yet to verify. But analysts say this group could be a front for a more prominent Kashmiri militant organization, responsible for previous terrorist attacks in the capital.

Ajai Sahni, with New Delhi's independent Institute for Conflict Management, says the attack bears the hallmarks of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, or "LET."

"The capacities of the groups to execute such an operation in Delhi, past arrests and seizures, suggests that the LET certainly would be among the prime suspects," said Mr. Sahni. "Also there has been some chatter of communications across the border, which certain sources tell us confirms in fact that it was an LET operation."

The bombings come as India and Pakistan made an unprecedented step toward cooperation in Kashmir, the border region that each claims as its own. For decades, control over the region has been the focus of tension between the two nations, and twice - outbreaks of war.

But on Sunday, India and Pakistan agreed to open five points along the heavily defended Kashmir border to allow relief assistance and divided families across following the October 8 earthquake that devastated both the India and Pakistani controlled sectors, killing more than 55,000 people.

Mr. Sahni says it is doubtful the timing of the attacks had anything to do with on-going peace talks between India and Pakistan.

"You must understand that almost at every festival and every major national event, there is always an escalated effort on the part of terrorist groups to engage in this kind of activity," he explained. "In the past, fortunately it has usually been foiled. In this case, they have got through."

New Delhi has largely returned to normal following the bomb attack but security is heavy in areas considered vulnerable, such as markets.

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