No advance reports on attacks: Chidambaram

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MUMBAI, July 14: Union home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, who flew down to Mumbai late last night, at a press conference hosted jointly with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, summed up the ongoing investigations into the serial blasts of Wednesday. The blast at Kabutar Khana in Dadar, he said, was low intensity while the ones at Opera House and Zaveri Bazar ranged from medium to high.
Ammonium nitrate was the explosive used with timer devices, Chidambaram said while confirming 17 deaths and 131 injured, who have been admitted for treatment in 13 hospitals across the city. 26 of the injured have been discharged; another 82 are stable, and 23 are seriously injured. The sites were chosen with an eye on population density, the minister said.
The Home Minister said teams from NIA and NSG are working with the ATS and the Mumbai Crime Branch to run forensics and other investigations on the blast sites; the public will not be allowed in the area, he warned.
Chidambaram said it was too early to identify suspects; all groups are under suspicion and central and state agencies are working in concert to identify the perpetrators. The Home Minister added that there was no advance intelligence about the possibility of an attack. The lack of intelligence, he said later in response to a question, does not indicate a failure of the concerned agencies.
Praising the response of the civilians, the minister asked the media to exercise restraint and to refrain from pointless speculation.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan condoled with the families of those killed and injured, and announced honorariums of Rs 5 lakh to those killed, and Rs 50,000 to the injured.
Without delving deep into possible motives, Chidambaram in response to a question said the blasts could be in revenge for actions taken by the local police in the recent past. The minister also did not rule out the possibility that those opposed to the peace process might target the Indo-Pak talks scheduled for later this month.
Responding to questions, Chidambaram said no arrests have been made thus far. Saying that the government would take full responsibility for the attacks, the minister pointed out that many attacks had been foiled in the past months and years; “this one slipped through,” Chidambaram said.
The minister said all three affected areas had CCTV cameras in place. It will take time and resources to expand such surveillance nation-wide, he pointed out. Stating that initial investigations were being carried out by various Indian agencies, he said foreign agencies would be called on to help in case of need.
Referring to the readiness of the police, Chidambaram pointed out that the capacity of the Mumbai police force had been increased “tremendously”, and said there are gaps in every police organization in the world, including India. The threat of terror is universal and sustained vigilance is the only answer, he said.
The minister pointed out that the attacks targeted neither foreigners, nor any particular community — the targeted places had a plurality of communities, he pointed out, adding that Zaveri Bazaar had sustained its third attack because of its commercial importance.
While stating that this was no time to trade political charges, Chidambaram in response to a question said he was disappointed with Pakistan`s response on 26/11, and its lack of action in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

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