World

Blasts in Indian holy city kill at least 20

At least 20 people were killed in a series of explosions at a railway station and temple in the Indian holy city of Varanasi on Tuesday.

At least 20 people were killed in a series of explosions at a railway station and temple in the Indian holy city of Varanasi on Tuesday.

"It is a terrorist attack. It has all the characteristics of a terrorist attack," Alok Sinha, the top home ministry official for Uttar Pradesh state, told The Associated Press. "We are not sure about the group involved."

At least 10 people died and 40 people were injured in what appeared to be two bombings at Varanasi's train station.

Five people were killed and 22 injured in another bombing at the temple on the banks of the Ganges River.

Another five people died overnight of their injuries, Superintendent of Police Paresh Pandey told The Associated Press.

Another senior official told the Associated Press that two unexploded bombs – one hidden in a pressure cooker and the other in a backpack – were found at Varanasi's Godowalia Market and defused by police. Home Secretary V.K. Duggal said the Varanasi blasts occurred within 10 minutes of each other.

The railway station blasts injured about 62 people, 22 of them seriously, police said.

Hospital authorities said the death toll is expected to rise because many of those who were hurt are in critical condition.

Varanasi is a popular destination for foreign tourists, as well as for Hindu pilgrims wanting to bathe in the Ganges River that runs through the city.

Sectarian tensions have risen in the region recently, with three people dying as Muslims and Hindus fought each other in the nearby city of Lucknow on March 3.

The strife was apparently triggered when armed Muslims tried to force Hindu merchants to shut their shops to protest against U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Pakistan.

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