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A bomb exploded close to a ruling political party’s office in Bangalore today, raising questions about the security of India's technology capital on the last day to file nominations for next month’s statewide elections.
The explosive was placed on a motorcycle parked about 100 yards from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters, and eight of the estimated 16 injured were policemen on duty, reports the Associated Press.
Many leading software and startup companies house their headquarters in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka state in southern India. State elections are slated to take place on May 5.
"It was definitely a explosion. What kind of explosion I can't say at this stage. We initially thought it was a gas cylinder explosion. [Now] we believe it is a motorcycle blast – a motorcycle [has been] destroyed," said Bangalore police chief Raghavendra Auradkar.
Federal junior Home Minister RPN Singh told BBC that investigators were "looking at all possibilities" and has asked that people not "give credence to rumours."
But according to R. Ashok, Karnataka state’s home minister and BJP party member, the blast was a terror attack and the BJP party office was “the probable target.” Surveillance has been stepped up in area train stations, airports, and roadways, and the government has asked for calm throughout the city, reports the Indian Express.
Security experts have warned that Bangalore is increasingly vulnerable to terrorist attacks and may be becoming a safe place for terrorist groups, reports The New York Times. The last major attack there took place in 2008, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The government’s ability to curb terrorism in India is an important political indicator, Reuters reports. Earlier this year, Hyderabad suffered two near-simultaneous bicycle blasts in a busy fruit market, reports The Christian Science Monitor. Local police had apparently been warned of a possible terror attack, raising additional concern over India’s ability to respond to terrorist threats.
“What gets missed is that every terror strike in India is a failure of Indian intelligence agencies: They have a very poor record of solving terrorism cases and most of the people who get charged for these terrorist incidents, ultimately get acquitted by courts but not before getting their lives destroyed,” says Kashif-ul-Huda, editor of TwoCircles.net, a website on Indian Muslim issues.
A Congress Party spokesman drew swift and critical response today when he published on Twitter that the blast would likely help the BJP party in state elections.
"If the blast near BJP's office in Banglore is a terror attack, it will certainly help the BJP politically on the eve of election (sic)," tweeted Congress Party Spokesman Shakeel Ahmed, according to India’s Zee News.
The BJP party responded that Mr. Ahmed’s comments were “insensitive and inhumane.”