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Jaipur Blasts Demonstrate Continuing Indian Vulnerability to Terrorist Attacks


The terrorist attack in Jaipur was the latest in a string of bombings of Indian cities during the past several years. Tuesday evening's serial blasts in congested areas of the capital of Rajasthan left at least 80 people dead, and wounded another 200. While the injured were still being treated, politicians were already taking to the airwaves blaming their rivals for condoning extremists and being responsible for lax security. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

A day-long curfew went into effect in Jaipur to try to prevent confrontations between the city's Hindu majority and its Muslim minority. Authorities blame Islamic militants for planting eight bombs in the tourist destination. One of the devices failed to detonate.

Rajasthan, the state where the blasts occurred, is run by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, known as the BJP. The national government coalition is led by the Congress Party, which the BJP accuses of showing favoritism to India's Muslim minority.

Politicians from both parties were quick to criticize the other for perceived shortcomings that provide an atmosphere conducive to terrorism attacks.

Bangalore-based independent terrorism researcher Sudha Ramachandran says the pandering for votes among communal groups by the political parties harms attempts to fight terrorism.

"What I fear is happening is that political parties across the ideological divide are guilty of protecting some kind of extremism in the country. And so police officers, intelligence agencies are often scared to act against these forces," said Ramachandran.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies then find themselves as the scapegoats after such attacks.

Terrorism researcher Ramachandran says the police in India have not received promised resources to battle extremists.

"It is easy for us at one level to blame the police officers or the beat cop for not being alert. But the fact is that the manpower capacity is very limited. Also we have been talking a lot about greater intelligence sharing between the different agencies," said Ramachandran. "But that has not really happened. Even if there's sharing theres no follow-up action."

Authorities are pointing at the Harkat ul-Jihad-al-Islami group also known as "HuJI" or the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, known as "LeT" as likely being responsible for the Jaipur attacks. HuJI operates both Bangladesh and Pakistan while the LeT is active in Pakistan's Kashmir region. Indian officials say the extremist organization operates out of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

India's Ministry of External Affairs says rising concerns about cross-border terrorism will be raised in talks with Pakistan next week in Islamabad.

In New Delhi, U.S. Ambassador David Mulford met with Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and offered American assistance in investigating the bombings.

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