VARANASI, UTTAR PRADESH: A blast outside a temple in northern India injured several people, including Hindu worshippers, and caused a small stampede, triggering a security alert across the country. A police official had initially said one person had been killed, but government officials later said that about 20 people had been hurt in the explosion, including foreign nationals.
The blast, described by an interior ministry official as low intensity, occurred around 6.20 p.m. (1250 GMT). As a result of the blast four to five people were injured. Subsequently a small stampede injured between 15 and 20 people. All the injured were taken to hospital.
The interior ministry said it was “too early to say” if the blast had been a militant attack, adding that a general alert had been sounded across India. India remains jittery about the threat of militant strikes, especially since the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 which killed 166 people and raised tensions between India and Pakistan.
TV images showed blood-soaked debris scattered outside a temple by the Ganges river in Varanasi city, considered holy by Hindus and frequented by foreign tourists. Women were seen sobbing amid overturned tables and chairs. The blast occurred shortly after an elaborate evening prayer by the river which is usually attended by hundreds of people, including tourists. In 2006, three blasts in Varanasi killed at least 15 people and wounded 60.-Reuters