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3 blasts in Hyderabad...US issues travel alert...riots in West Bengal

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At least 11 people have been killed and 47 people injured after three bomb blasts struck the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, Indian officials say.

The blasts on Thursday were about 10 minutes apart and occurred near a cinema hall and a bus station.

It is believed that one of the explosions went off as people were leaving the cinema, Sohail Rahman, Al Jazeera's South Asia correspondent, reported from New Delhi.

He said quoting local media that as many as 15 people might have died while the injured were being taken to nearby hospitals.

"The devastation is pretty widespread. This part of the city is a very popular bazar area, very popular with young people when they are going out in the evening," he said.

Local police said they were trying to determine the cause of the explosions.

Al Jazeera's Nilanjan Chowdhury, reporting from New Delhi, said local media had reported a threat two days ago.

"Two days ago there was an alert from the intelligence agencies, and it was sent out to all the states in India, but there was no specific intelligence as to what might happen," he said.

The situation in India has been tense, with trade union strikes entering their second day and the arrest of several suspected members of the armed group Lashkar-e-Taiba in recent days.


In light of the worsening security crisis, and terror attacks against Americans, the United States has issued a worldwide travel alert to its citizens including South Asia where it said terrorist outfits like al Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) might harm them.

US citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, the State Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

Noting that current information suggests that Al-Qaeda, its affiliated organisations, and other terrorist outfits continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the State Department said these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.

It said extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests.

Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where the countrys citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays, the State Department said.

In South Asia, the presence of Al-Qaeda, Taliban elements, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organisations, many of which are on the US Governments list of Foreign Terror Organisations (FTOs), poses a potential danger to US citizens in the region, it said.

Terrorists and their sympathisers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack targets where US citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.

According to the State Department, anti-Western terrorist groups, some on the US governments list of FTOs, have been active in India, including Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayyeba.

Terrorists have targeted public places in India frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas, it added.


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West Bengal: 200 homes torched, shops ransacked in riots

Read more at: http://news.oneindia.in/2013/02/21/west-bengal-homes-torched-shops-ransacked-in-riots-1155624.html

Kolkata, Feb 21: Hundreds of homes were set ablaze and scores of shops ransacked in the riots that rocked the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal over the past three days. Reports say the murder of a religious leader sparked violent clashes in the Canning sub divsion of the district. Maulvi Rohul Kuddus of Ghutiyari Shariff was returning from Jaamtala Haat on the night of Feb 18 when an unidentified gang fired at him.

One of his aides Abdul Wahab who was riding pillion on the motorcycle escaped with minor injuries but Maulvi Kuddus died on the spot. In the wee hours of Feb 19, a bus driver Samir Sen saw the body lying on the Naliakhali main road and alerted the Canning police. By the time cops arrived at the scene, Abdul Wahab had informed some people about the incident. Soon after this, shops in Gopalpur, Naliakhali, Goladogra and Herobhanga were ransackedby a mob. Hindus living in the area were attacked and their homes burnt down. The cops tried to restore calm but the arsonists did not spare even police vehicles. Two senior police officers were injured.

The mob blocked the roads at Bhangankhali, Priyor More, Natunhat etc. As the situation seemed to be spiralling out of control, Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in the district. Niti Central reported that several of the arsonists were brought in trucks from parts of Kolkata. Residents of Naliakhali said that a large number of outsiders damaged their temple and molested five women on Feb 19. According to political observers, the violence is linked to the forthcoming Panchayat elections in West Bengal. The ruling Trinamool Congress and the CPI-M are busy trying to woo Muslim voters in the district where the minority community forms a third of the population. Even as both these parties look to exploit the communal flare-up to their advantage, there is the real danger of the state slipping into the sort of turmoil that Assam witnessed last year. Hopefully the authorities will wake up before that and take the necessary measures.


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