07/18/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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Mumbai remembers last week's railway tragedy amid new threats

Residents stop for a two-minute moment of silence to honour the 182 people who died in the July 11 attack. New Islamist threats are made against the city as well as Delhi.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – At 6.24 pm, 196 sirens wailed across the city of Mumbai in perfect synchronisation, bringing the city to a standstill in memory of the 182 people who were killed in eight bomb attacks that a week ago today struck its Western Railway lines. At 6.25 pm, Mumbai residents fell silent for two minutes to honour the victims.

At Mahim station, one of the hardest hit areas, Union President A P J Abdul Kalam led people in the commemoration ceremony.

Sirens sounded twice to mark the beginning and the end of the moment of silence, Civil Defence Director General P K B Chakravarti said. Volunteers were instructed to synchronise their watches to All India Radio Time. Since only 40 are operated automatically, the other ones had to be set off manually.

Local Catholics joined the ceremonies to remember the victims and share the sorrow.  Through their bishops, they condemned the attacks, expressing their hope that inter-communal peace will be achieved.

People gathered for a few minutes before the ceremony at Churchgate railway terminus, where the first two bombs were went off.

For office worker Lourdef Godinho, this was "the best way to bring everybody together."

Movie theatres were closed and flights to and fro the state capital were delayed so that the moment of silence could be total.

For first time, the State of Maharashtra has honoured victims of terrorist violence this way. Sirens, usually used to warn people of a pending danger, were used. Only exception to the rule is January 30, when the country remembers the Mahatma Gandhi and all those "who died so that India may be free".

Mumbai is still not over its tragedy; it is still a city on maximum alert. Lashkar-e-Qahar, an Islamist terrorist group that claimed responsibility for last week's attacks, in an e-mail message sent to a TV station, has promised more violence.

The group claims that 16 people took part in the multiple attacks but only one died. "All the remaining 15 mujahideens are totally safe, and celebrating the success of this mission and preparing for the next," the message read. Furthermore, it said: "We also request all Muslim brothers and sisters not to go near the main historical, governmental and the monumental places of India (especially in Delhi and Mumbai) in future. Otherwise, they will get hurt too."

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