Serial bomb blasts rocked Hyderabad Thursday evening, killing at least 11 people and injuring around 50 others. However eyewitnesses placed the toll at 18.
The two near-simultaneous explosions occurred in Dilsukhnagar area in the city when it was crowded with people returning home. According to some eyewitness accounts, three explosions were heard.
Dilsukhnagar is a busy commercial area to the south of Musi River in the southern part of city, about 15 km from the heart of the city.
Eyewitnesses said they heard two loud explosions within a couple of minutes. Police confirmed the bomb explosions but there was no official word on the number of explosions.
The first blast occurred around 7 p.m. near a tiffin centre opposite Venkatadri theatre and the second near Konark theatre. Both the theatres are about 500 meters from each other.
According to preliminary reports, the bombs were planted on bicycles.
Ambulances and police vehicles rushed to the area. The injured were shifted to Yashoda Hospital at Malakpet and to the government-run Osmania Hospital. Gory pictures of the victims without limbs were seen. Others with bleeding injuries were shifted to ambulances.
The area was cordoned off as senior police officials and sleuths from National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau rushed to the scene.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy, Director General of Police V. Dinesh Reddy and others visited the scene. The blasts sent panic in the area, close to Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway. Police sounded high alert across the city and launched search in many public places.
In Delhi, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde put the toll at 11 - eight in the first blast and three in the second. He admitted the government had received intelligence warning of blasts taking place in the country but no specific target was mentioned.
"We were receiving information for the last two days that such a blast may take place... there was no input about which city would be targeted," Shinde told reporters adding that the information was passed onto all the states.
"We cannot speculate about the perpetrators at this point of time," he said further.
NIA and the National Security Guard (NSG) teams have been sent to Hyderabad, union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said.
"We have news of two blasts. We have spoken to state chief secretary, DGP (director general of police) and governor (E.S.L. Narasimhan)," he told reporters in Delhi.
"Our NIA team is also reaching as it has a hub there. The NIA officials are there at the site. Our IG NIA is also going from here. The post blast investigating team of NSG is also going," he said.
Strongly condemning the twin blasts, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday described it as a "dastardly attack" and said the guilty should not "go unpunished."
"This is a dastardly attack, the guilty will not go unpunished," a tweet from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) quoted Manmohan Singh as saying.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi also expressed her "sorrow and anguish" over the attack.