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India: Hyderabad blasts: Death toll goes up to 16


New Delhi, (Agencies):

The death toll in the twin bomb blasts in Hyderabad on Friday mounted to 16 with two more persons succumbing to their injuries in a hospital.

The deaths took place in two private hospitals, officials said. "Till now, out of 14 bodies, 12 have been handed over to their kin.

Two more bodies are in the mortuary. One has to be identified. 14 bodies have directly been sent to Osmania Hospital. Two more are awaited from private hospitals," a senior doctor at the state-run Osmania General Hospital said.

The hospital has received 37 people with injuries while some of them have been admitted to corporate hospitals, he said.

Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde addressed a press conference after visiting the blast and said that investigation has started and the government will not leave any stone unturned.

Talking to reporters after visiting the scene of the blasts and calling on the injured at one of the hospitals, Shinde said six of the injured were in a critical condition.

He said he can't share more information as parliament is in session.

"The state government has already appointed an investigation team and the matter is being investigated now," he said.

"There was no specific information that it (blasts) will happen in a particular area. A general alert has been sounded for the last two-three days and we have issued this alert to whole of the country," he said, when asked about his earlier statement that the central government had issued an alert.

Shinde did not agree that police had failed.

"It cannot be said at this moment. One has to go into the details. If there was threat perception earlier, it will come in the investigations. It will be too early to talk on such lines," he said.

"We will not leave any stone unturned. We will find everything. At this moment, nothing can be said. The matter is under investigation," he added while refusing to comment on whether he suspects Indian Mujahideen's involvement.

Shinde also clarified that no time limit can be set for the investigations.

Shinde, who arrived in the city early Friday, drove to Dilsukhnagar and inspected the blast scene along with Andhra Pradesh governor ESL Narasimhan, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, state home minister Sabita Indra Reddy and other officials.

Director general of police V Dinesh Reddy briefed Shinde about the two near-simultaneous blasts in the crowded area.

The minister inspected the fast food centre where the bicycle bomb killed at least eight persons on the spot.

He then went to the bus shelter about 150 meters away where the second blast killed another six people and left many injured.

Shinde also spoke with officials of the National Investigating Agency and enquired about the clues gathered from the scene.

Shinde later visited some hospitals where the injured persons were undergoing treatment.

Two powerful near simultaneous blasts had ripped through a crowded area close to a cluster of bus stands in Dilsukhnagar area on Thursday.

The blasts triggered by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) tied to two bicycles took place at two sites 100 metres apart outside a roadside eatery near Konark and Venkatadri theatres in the area located on the Hyderabad-Vijaywada national highway in Cyberabad police limits.

DGP Reddy had said it was "definitely the handiwork of a terrorist network" and IEDs were used in the attack.

The Union home secretary had said the near two simultaneous very powerful blasts indicate that it was a "terror attack".

Meanwhile, police have established the identity of 12 of the 14 killed in the blasts.

Two of the deceased were MBA students, a release from Cyberabad Police Commissioner's office said.

Post-mortem of the bodies was conducted at Osmania General Hospital.

The police said the first bomb exploded at around 7.01pm in front of Anand Tiffin Centre near the Konark theatre. Another bomb went off after a few minutes at a foot-over bridge near the Venkatadri theatre, just 150 metres away.

Dilsukhnagar, in the eastern part of Hyderabad, is an education and commercial hub with hundreds of computer coaching institutions, theatres and fruit and wholesale grain markets nearby.

There is also a temple is in the vicinity where devotees gather on Thursdays.

The bodies were shifted to Osmania Hospital for autopsy, while the injured were shifted to the nearby Omni hospital and Yashoda hospital.

This is the 11th terror strike in India since the November 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai. Altogether, 60 people were killed in these attacks across five cities. The last terror attack in Hyderabad in August 2007 had killed 44.

The twin blasts in Hyderabad rocked both Houses of Parliament with Opposition members attacking the government for alleged lapses in matters of internal security.

As soon as Lok Sabha met, Speaker Meira Kumar made an obituary reference to the victims of the blasts in which several persons were killed and a large number injured.

"The House unequivocally condemns this barbaric and cowardly act of terrorism," Kumar said.

Members stood in silence for a while as a mark of respect to the departed.

Moments later the House plunged into chaos as BJP members raised slogans attacking the government for alleged lapses on matters of internal security.

Shinde will a statement in the Lok Sabha at 2:00pm.

TDP members were seen waving copies of Telugu newspapers carrying reports of the Hyderabad blasts.

CPI(M) members were protesting alleged atrocities on its activists during the two-day strike against the government's "anti-labour" policies.

DMK members were in the Well waving photographs of LTTE chief V Prabhakaran's 12-year-old son who was allegedly shot dead by Sri Lankan forces.

As the din continued, the Speaker adjourned the House till noon.

Rajya Sabha too witnessed uproar over the blasts with Opposition members on their feet.

As soon as the House met for the day, chairman Hamid Ansari mentioned the twin blasts and condemned the dastardly attack in the strongest possible terms.

The House then observed silence as a mark of respect to the departed.

Ansari said he has received notices from members wanting a discussion on the issue and a time would be fixed for a proper debate.

But M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) wanted a discussion on the issue immediately, a demand supported by Opposition benches.

SP, BSP, TDP and JU(U) members too demanded an immediate discussion and a statement by the government on the issue.

This did not pacify the members who continued to persist with their demand.

With members unrelenting, Ansari adjourned the House till noon.

(With AFP, PTI and IANS inputs)

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