Guards outside the Agra hospital. (AFP)
Lucknow, Sept. 17: Six persons suffered minor injuries when a crude bomb went off this evening at an Agra private hospital, 2.5km from the Taj Mahal, but police said it was unlikely to be a terrorist act.
Senior officers admitted, though, that the city, a prime destination for domestic and foreign tourists, had long been on the terror surveillance list.
The 5.30pm explosion took place in the reception area of the 50-bed Jai Hospital near Bhagwan Talkies on Sikandra Road, spreading panic among patients, doctors and other staff. Most of those injured were relatives of patients.
Foreign tourists who were on their way back from the Taj were escorted out of the neighbourhood and sent to their hotels, an officer said.
The police, who suspect that some criminal gang or the other carried out the explosion, have no clue yet why the hospital was attacked. Initially, it had been put down to a cylinder blast but forensic experts have confirmed it was a crude bomb.
It does not seem to be a terror act. A preliminary investigation has revealed that the bomb may have been planted to cause damage to the hospital or trigger panic, said D.K. Goswami, deputy inspector-general of police (Agra Circle).
Goswami said the bomb was probably planted under a long steel bench where patients relatives were sitting. The bench was left twisted and the rooms glass ceiling came crashing down, leaving the ground floor covered in shards.
Thick clouds of smoke billowed out, blinding even those standing on the first floor of the hospital, said hospital superintendent Dr Manvendra Sharma.
He said the splinters left six persons bleeding and three of them were admitted to the same hospital.
The police scoured the narrow lanes and alleys leading to the Taj. No more explosives have been found, state special director-general of police Brij Lal said late in the evening, but the police have been kept on high alert.
PTI reported that a National Security Guard squad, too, was sent to the spot.