A bomb hidden in a metal canister exploded as thousands gathered for a Hindu ceremony, killing a toddler and triggering a stampede that left many others wounded in a holy Indian city.
NY POST–LUCKNOW, INDIA – Police said the blast in Varanasi appeared to be a terrorist attack. The Press Trust of India reported a Muslim terror group allegedly claimed responsibility for the blast in an e-mail to several media outlets. Authorities were working to verify the validity of the letter, allegedly sent by the terror group Indian Mujahedeen.
The bomb was stashed in a milk container on the Sheetla Ghat, one of many stone staircases leading to the Ganges river, the site of daily spiritual rituals, according to police official Brij Lal.
A 2-year-old who had been sitting on her mother’s lap when the bomb went off died in a hospital, Lal said. Her mother and two others, including one of the foreigners, were in serious condition.
The ceremony is a daily ritual in Varanasi, the holiest city in the Hindu religion, during which priests and others light oil lamps, ring bells and chant prayers to worship the Ganges.
In March 2006, twin bombings blamed on a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group tore through a train station and a temple in Varanasi, killing 20 people.