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5 Killed in Southern India Mosque Bombing

  • Anjana Pasricha

A bomb explosion in a mosque in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad has killed at least five people and wounded more than 25. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi that security was stepped up in other major Indian cities after the blast.

Authorities say the bomb exploded at the 17th-century Mecca Masjid mosque in Hyderabad just as Friday prayers were drawing to a close. The mosque is located in a congested area of the city.

As ambulances took the dead and injured to hospitals, angry crowds of Muslims gathered outside the mosque, throwing stones and shouting slogans. Police used baton charges and fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil said two more bombs found at the mosque were defused. He said all the bombs were crude devices.

Minister Patil says steps are being taken to give medical aid to the wounded people. He says measures are also being taken to maintain peace in the city.

Hyderabad, which is the capital of the southern Andhra Pradesh state, has a large Muslim population.

The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy, appealed for calm in a city where tensions have erupted between Hindus and Muslims in the past.

"We are all very sorry about the unfortunate incident that took place near the Mecca Masjid. This is an intentional sabotage on the peace and tranquility of the state, and I appeal and take this opportunity to appeal to everyone concerned to show restraint," said Reddy.

Hyderabad is one of the biggest cities in southern India and one of the country's important information technology hubs.

Friday's attack was the third bombing in an Indian mosque in more than a year.

Last September, bombs exploded in a mosque in Malegaon, a city in the western state of Maharashtra, killing more than 30 people. And in April last year, 14 people were injured when two bombs exploded in Delhi's main mosque, the Jama Masjid.

The attacks are seen as an attempt to raise tensions between India's Hindu majority and Muslim minority population.

Security was stepped up in major cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore - following Friday's explosions.

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