08/26/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Terrorist attacks an act of cowardice, says bishop of Hyderabad

by Nirmala Carvalho
Mgr Marampudi Joji slams the two blasts that killed 42 people, injuring 60. Catholic doctors and nurses are called up to help the victims. Schools and parishes made available as places of refugee for people frightened by the violence against the innocent.

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) – “The Church of Hyderabad condemns this terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms.  It is horrendous that elements can unleash such a horrific wave of terror on innocent citizens.  These bomb blasts are an act of cowardice,” said Mgr Marampudi Joji, Catholic archbishop of Hyderabad, as he slammed the two blasts that yesterday killed at least 42 people and injured another 60 in two separate attacks in the state capital of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Mgr Joji called on all Christian doctors and nurses—a few thousands—to work throughout the night to help victims. All Catholic institutions like schools, hospices and parishes are open all night to offer hospitality, food and safety to families afraid of going home.

The first blast occurred at 7.50 pm (GMT 2.20 pm) at Gokul Chat Shop in Kothi. The second one took place a few minutes later about five kilometres away during a laser show in an auditorium in Lumbini Park with about 500 people present. The blast ripped through the middle row of the auditorium when the show had just begun.

“The two places, where the bomb blasts occurred, were a pool of blood. One bomb was in an amusement park and another in a fast food place that are in the centre of the city. Dead bodies were one on top of the other. Some bodies do not even have heads. Other bodies are crushed beyond recognition. Many are seriously injured in the hospitals. The whole city is in turmoil,” an eyewitness told AsiaNews.

Andhra Pradesh Home Affairs Minister K Jana Reddy called the two blasts “a terrorist act.” A senior local police official said the explosives used in the twin blasts today were similar to that used by terrorists in the Mecca Masjid (mosque) blasts in May this year, a case which remains unsolved.

For Union (Federal) Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal, the explosions are the handiwork of some terrorist group “bent on destroying the unity of the country.”

Andhra Pradesh is the third most populous state in India with 76.2 million people, 80 per cent Hindu, 9 per cent Muslim and 4 per cent Christian.

As a result of the latest incidents security in the state capital has been further tightened in view of 10,000 weddings that are scheduled today, which will bring many people together but also provide opportunities for clashes and violence.

Talking to AsiaNews Archbishop Joji expressed his “deepest sorrow to the victims of these attacks and their families.” The prelate “asked for special prayers to be recited at all masses so that Christ may console the families of those who have perished in these bomb blasts. [. . .] Perhaps the most important help that can be provided is to offer a sense of hope in this time of seeming hopelessness.”

Thousands of Catholic medical staff, doctors and nurses, were given a special dispensation from Sunday mass to offer all possible assistance to the victims of the attacks.

Several Catholic parishes are located near the affected areas. For this reason, Mgr Joji “personally phoned all 30 parish priests in the diocese to be on high alert and be very cautious of any suspicious activity in around the churches and schools.  [. . .] I have told them not to panic, but trust in God and take preventive measures to ensure the safety of the Church and our personnel.”

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