Friday, July 15, 2011

Forensic Evidence From India Blasts Being Studied

A man reads a newspaper at Zaveri bazaar area, near one of the bomb explosion sites, in Mumbai on July 14, 2011. - A man reads a newspaper at Zaveri bazaar area, near one of the bomb explosion sites, in Mumbai on July 14, 2011. | Saurabh Das/AP

India warns it may never be free from terror attacks

MUMBAI, INDIA— The Associated Press
The triple bombing that killed 17 in the heart of India’s financial capital sparked anger Thursday over the government’s inability to prevent terror strikes despite overhauling security forces after the 2008 Mumbai siege.
Indian officials say they have made extraordinary security reforms since 10 Pakistani terrorists rampaged across the city nearly three years ago, but following Wednesday’s attack they warned they may never be able to guarantee a terror-free nation in a region plagued by extremism.

“We live in the most troubled neighbourhood in the world,” said Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, pointing to nearby Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Every part of India is vulnerable.”
No terror group claimed responsibility – and investigators had no immediate suspects – in the bombings that shook three separate neighbourhoods within minutes during Wednesday’s busy evening rush. Officials had initially said 21 people were killed in the co-ordinated blasts, but later downgraded the death toll to 17, with 131 injured.
Mr. Chidambaram said the government had no intelligence warning. “Whoever has perpetrated this attack has worked in a very, very clandestine manner,” he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who flew to Mumbai to meet with the wounded, called on authorities “to relentlessly pursue the perpetrators. They must be brought to justice quickly.
“I assure the people that the government will do everything in its power to prevent such attacks in the future,” he said.
But many remained frustrated.
“Why is Mumbai being attacked again?” asked Uttam Jain, who works in a gold shop in the Jhaveri Bazaar jewellery market that was hit by one of the blasts. Mr. Jain said he was “disgusted with politicians who promise security, but do nothing after the media cameras are gone.”
The bombings marked the worst terror attack in India since the 2008 siege, which killed 166 people over three days.
After that attack, the government expanded police recruiting and training, bought high-tech equipment and updated its ancient police arsenal. It established a National Investigation Agency to probe terror attacks and set up commando bases across the country – including one in Mumbai – so rapid reaction forces could swiftly arrive at the scene of an attack.
However, the law enforcement system in the country was so badly degraded that even these changes have done little to increase safety, said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management.
He called the NIA “a tiny little organization” with few resources. “It is not the FBI.”
While the police have improved, arriving on the scene of the blasts within minutes Wednesday, their training, forensic and investigative capabilities remain horribly deficient, leaving them powerless to uncover terror plots before they are carried out, he said.
At the scene of the bombings, investigators struggled to preserve evidence with plastic sheets as a driving rain washed away the bloodstains.More...

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