A powerful explosion ripped through a crowded bakery in the western Indian city of Pune today, killing at least eight people and injuring 32 others near a famed meditation center frequented by foreigners, an official said.Ashok Chavan, the top elected official of Maharashtra state, said police were investigating whether it was a cooking gas cylinder that exploded by accident or a bomb.
But Press Trust of India quoted federal Home Secretary G.K. Pillai as saying that it was most probably a terror attack. Top police officer Rajender Sonawania was also quoted as saying the initial indications were that it was a bomb blast.
“But it’s not confirmed,” Sonawania told reporters.
India’s financial hub Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra state were put on high alert, said Chhagan Bhujbal, the state deputy chief minister.
The explosion occurred in German Bakery close to the Osho Ashram, a mediation center of a famed Indian guru, often frequented by foreigners.
Indian television news channels said the casualties included some foreigners.
Sonawania said “we are not sure about that, but police are trying to identify the nationalities of the victims.”
The bakery and some nearby shops were badly damaged by the blast. Most of the victims were in the bakery.
PTI said the explosion site was splattered with thick patches of blood and severed limbs.
“I was traveling by an auto-rickshaw. I heard a loud explosion and the ground shook,” said Santosh Kumar, who was injured in the blast.
Sonawania said the blast occurred around 7 p.m. local time. The injured have been hospitalized.
Pune is nearly 200 kilometers south of Mumbai.
A major terror attack in Mumbai in November 2008 killed 166 people, when terrorists took over the Mumbai Chabad house in the city.
The explosion in the bakery today was about 100 meters away from the Chabad house of Pune.
The Israeli Consulate was checking if any of the victims were Israeli nationals.