Indian opposition blames Pak for Pune blast

NEW DELHI: India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders today demanded that new peace talks with rival Pakistan be cancelled after a bomb blast in a crowded bakery in western India killed nine people and wounded 57.

The explosion yesterday, caused by a bomb left in an unattended bag, was the first major terrorist attack in India since the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

It ripped open the German Bakery in the city of Pune, 200 km southeast of Mumbai. Thick patches of blood and severed limbs littered the popular hangout, which is close to a meditation retreat and a Jewish centre officials say were previously scouted by a terrorist suspect now detained in the US.

“I came running to the bakery after hearing the explosion. I found people lying all over the place,” said Abba More, who lives nearby.

Security forces were put on high alert today at airports, train stations and markets across the country.

BJP leaders blamed the attack on Pakistan and demanded the government call off next week’s peace talks, the first between the nuclear-armed neighbours since the Mumbai siege.

“India’s initiative to hold peace talks with Pakistan is misconceived and adventurous,” said Arun Jaitley, a top leader of the BJP.

He said India shouldn’t restart peace talks until Pakistan stops allowing terrorists to base themselves there and punishes those involved in the Mumbai attacks. “Terrorism and talks can’t coexist,” Jaitley said.

Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said he would wait for the forensic experts’ report before commenting on the opposition demand.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited the bakery and the wounded in hospitals today.

An Italian and an Iranian were among the nine people dead, police said. Pune police commissioner Satyapal Singh told a news conference that 12 foreigners were also among the 60 people injured. The rest of the victims were Indian, he said.