A device attached to a Suzuki motorcycle exploded near an office of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in the southern city of Bangalore injuring 16 people, police said.
The blast took place in Bangalore’s Malleshwaram area between 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., according to police officer Krishnappa in the city’s control room. Police earlier said they were unable to confirm whether it was a bomb. While there were no reported fatalities, all the victims were taken to hospital and police said two were seriously injured.
“It seems to be an explosive plus incendiary bomb,” City Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar said in comments broadcast live on television channels.
Before today’s blast, India had been targeted nine times by terrorists since November 2008 when the government pledged to improve policing and intelligence gathering after Pakistani gunmen killed 166 people during a three-day siege of the country’s financial capital, Mumbai. The latest bombing, in Hyderabad in February, killed at least 16 people.
Bangalore, capital of BJP-ruled Karnataka state, is home to technology companies Wipro Ltd. and Infosys Ltd. The province is preparing for elections on May 5, where the BJP faces a fight to retain control of the state after a mining scam dented the party’s image.
Television footage from Bangalore showed three burned out cars, and police officers scouring the area with sniffer dogs.
The explosion occurred about 100 yards from the BJP’s office, Ashwath Narayana, a BJP spokesman in Bangalore, said in an interview. Eleven of the injured were police officers who were on routine patrol duty outside the political party office, he said.
Today is the last day for filing nominations for the assembly elections, and senior party leaders were expected to visit the office at about 1 p.m, Narayana said. The office usually houses between 75 and 100 party workers, he said.
Bangalore has been bombed three times in the past five years. Three years ago to the day, bombs outside a packed cricket stadium in the city exploded injuring 20 people. In 2008, two people were killed and at least 15 people were injured after seven small devices exploded in the city.
Opposition from India’s states stalled progress in setting up a national counter-terrorism agency last year, as regional leaders said it would usurp the powers of police under their command. Then Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram proposed the new unit after visiting the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center in the wake of the attack on Mumbai.