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Curfew after blasts outside mosque

Mumbai, Nov. 21: At least 34 people were injured, two of them seriously, when two masked men on motorcycles hurled crude bombs at persons emerging from a place of worship at Parbhani in south Maharashtra.

The yet-to-be identified assailants were clearly trying to engineer communal trouble by targeting a group that had just emerged from the local Mohammadiya mosque after the last Friday prayers before Id.

Curfew has been clamped in the Marathwada region and the government has rushed two companies of the state reserve police force. Surendra Mohan Shangari, who has recently been appointed director-general of police, is camping at the site along with a contingent of senior police officers.

The attack triggered an angry reaction, with a mob ransacking markets in Gujri Sarafa and Shivaji Nagar and setting two shops ablaze.

Kripashankar Singh, minister of state for home, said the situation was tense, but under control. The curfew will remain in force till 8 am tomorrow.

“We are carefully monitoring the situation and have sounded an alert throughout the state,’’ deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who also holds the home portfolio, said. He added that the blast occurred at Shahane Chowk in Parbhani town around 1.50 pm.

Sources in Aurangabad said residents were shocked and nervous. “Most people have gone indoors and bolted their doors…,’’ a local non-government organisation worker said. He added that the attack appeared unprovoked and was aimed at disturbing communal peace. “We are wondering what could have triggered the attack as Parbhani has been largely peaceful of late,’’ the worker added.

Police sources said they were working on some leads provided by the mosque-goers. They have described the attackers and the motorcycles they were riding.

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