India bomb blasts target BJP rally in eastern city of Patna

Bomb blasts in Patna, India
Smoke from one of the explosions rises above the crowd waiting the hear Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi speak. Photograph: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

Five people killed in six small explosions as hundreds of thousands gathered to hear speech by BJP’s Narendra Modi


A series of small bomb blasts have killed five people and injured dozens in the eastern Indian city of Patna, just hours before a major campaign rally by the country’s main opposition candidate for prime minister in a nearby park.

After the six homemade bombs went off in the Bihar state capital, panic erupted briefly among the hundreds of thousands of people gathered to hear Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) speak.

Authorities quickly restored order, the rally went ahead as scheduled and Modi made no mention of the explosions during his hour-long speech. The longtime chief minister of western Gujarat state has been waging a fierce national campaign to unseat the Congress party-led government in next year’s elections.

Police detained one man for questioning, but did not say whether he was a suspect.

India‘s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, condemned Sunday’s violence and appealed for calm.

The first blast came from a crude device that exploded in a public toilet building on an isolated railway platform, the Patna district police chief, Manu Maharaj, said.

Another bomb went off near a cinema, and two more exploded just outside the park, sending plumes of grey smoke into the air above the crowd.

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