Hyderabad, August 9:

A bomb exploded at a crowded bus station in a southern Indian city today, wounding at least 20 people, police said. At least three buses were damaged in the explosion in Karimnagar, 170 km north of Hyderabad, the capital of the southern Andhra Pradesh state, said Devender Singh Chauhan, the local police chief. The 20 people hurt in the blast included three drivers, Chauhan said. Two of those hurt were seriously injured, but their lives were not in jeopardy, he said. Chauhan said the bomb apparently was planted in a lunch box. He said it exploded seconds after a passenger spotted smoke coming out of the box, lying abandoned on one of the platforms. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, but Chauhan said police suspected Maoist rebels who have been fighting for more than three decades, demanding land and jobs for agricultural workers and the poor. But a rebel spokesman denied involvement. “This blast is a conspiracy by the police to defame us. We don’t target public places,” spokesman Chadranna, who goes by one name, told The Associated Press. Karimnagar is a stronghold of the rebels.