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60 killed, 200 wounded in multiple bombings in India


A series of explosions have torn through the tourist city of Jaipur late Tuesday night, killing more than 60 and wounding more than 200, according to the latest reports from India. Eight blasts occurred within 12 minutes of each other in crowded markets and near a temple, The Times of India reported. One bomb, which was placed near a Hindu temple, was defused by an Indian bomb disposal unit.

The near simultaneous strikes, described as "carefully orchestrated low-intensity explosions" bear the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation. Sources within the Indian Home Ministry pointed the finger at the Bangladesh-based Harkat ul Jihad al Islami, an al Qaeda affiliate. Pipe bombs were used in the attack, and some officials believe the Pakistani-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group assisted in the attacks.

The Bangladeshi branch of Harkat ul Jihad al Islami Bangladesh, or HuJI-B, was established in 1992 "with assistance from Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front," according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

"HuJI aims to establish Islamic Hukumat (rule) in Bangladesh by waging war and killing progressive intellectuals," the South Asia Terrorism Portal stated. "It draws inspiration from bin Laden and the erstwhile Taliban regime of Afghanistan. At one point of time, the groups issued a slogan, Amra Sobai Hobo Taliban, Bangla Hobe Afghanistan (We will all become Taliban and we will turn Bangladesh into Afghanistan)."

HuJI-B fighters are recruited from madrassa, or religious schools, in Bangladesh and are trained in al Qaeda and Taliban camps Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bangladeshi terror group plays a crucial role in training jihadists "from southern Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Brunei" and providing manpower for al Qaeda's affiliates in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Chechnya.



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READER COMMENTS: "60 killed, 200 wounded in multiple bombings in India"

Posted by Batman at May 13, 2008 5:15 PM ET:

What does this mean as far as getting greater help from India in the Long War? Are they engaged now at all? Certainly they have tremendous capacity in terms of manpower.

Posted by mjr007 at May 13, 2008 6:23 PM ET:

Time for India to step up. They are the leading economy of the world and if they want to stay that way, they will join us in this fight.

Posted by C. Jordan at May 13, 2008 7:02 PM ET:

Why would AQI open up on a new front while they are getting pushed back in Iraq? Do they see India as a paper tiger? Perhaps it's a rouge element of AQI pushing this attack?

Doesn't make any sense to me other then ancient feuds dating back to British colonialism.

Posted by anand at May 13, 2008 7:37 PM ET:

AQ linked networks (that have publically declared Osama Bin Laden their Emir) killed over 10,000 Indian civilians before 9/11.

That is why India has given Afghanistan more grants than any country other than America.

India also offered peacekeeping troops, and assistance to train and equip the ANSF. Afghanistan, under Pakistani and Chinese pressure (and in agreement with NATO), declined Indian help (except for a small training team that is operating under the radar.)

India should be requested to increase its economic aid to Afghanistan, and contribute more to the ANSF's officer and NCO academies.

India can also play a larger role Africa(Somalia/Darfur), Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippians.

In return, India will demand greater influence in how the international community is fighting the global Takfiri threat (and this should be granted to them.)

Posted by Mark at May 13, 2008 10:35 PM ET:

"Afghanistan, under Pakistani and Chinese pressure (and in agreement with NATO), declined Indian help (except for a small training team that is operating under the radar.)"

Ok, so I know almost nothing about India's involvement in helping Afghanistan. Why would China pressure Afghanistan to refuse help from Inda?

Posted by anand at May 13, 2008 11:00 PM ET:

Pakistan is a close ally of China.

Posted by Batman at May 13, 2008 11:04 PM ET:

Mark, I don't know much about Indian involvement against AQI either, but I do know that India and China are regional competitors economically and militarily, and a projection Indian military power, especially seen to be allied with the U.S., might be seen as increasing Indian sphere of influence at China's expense.

Posted by anand at May 13, 2008 11:15 PM ET:

Many of the old line Chinese army guard still see India as one of China's 3 primary rivals (along with America and Japan.)

Younger Chinese see India as one of China's largest trading and investment partners, but old habits die hard (China and India fought a war in 1962, and China backed Pakistan in many difficult confrontations with India.)

Mark, no country gives Afghanistan more money in grants per year than India, except for America. Indians try to maintain a low profile to avoid antagonizing China and Pakistan, or giving them an excuse to back the Taliban against Afghanistan.

One of the main reasons many Pakistanis back the Taliban and AQ against the Afghan government, ANSF and NATO, is that the Taliban and AQ are seen as powerful allies against India.

Karzai, during his meeting with Pres Bush and Pres Musharraf threatened to accept help from Russia and India against the Taliban and AQ unless Musharraf stopped accommodating them and unless NATO stepped up to the plate to help Afghanistan.

I personally believe that India should do more to help Afghanistan, and that NATO should let India do more (mostly in the form of training and equipping the ANSF, although Indian combat troops would be too provocative.)

I am surprised that there isn't more awareness of the large role that India and China are playing in Afghanistan.


Posted by JMS at May 14, 2008 4:45 AM ET:

If not for Pakistani displeasure, India would have sent combat troops to Afghanistan long ago. Pakistan would regard this as Indian encirclement, and would object strongly, placing the India-Pakistan peace process in danger. America's greater interest right now lies in continuing good relations between India and Pakistan, as that conflict helps to drive extremism across Pakistan more broadly. India is about as involved in Pakistan as it can be without sending actual combat forces... though I have read that the 'protection forces' guarding Indian reconstruction teams on the ground include special forces troops in reasonable numbers. That Pakistan hasn't made a big deal about this suggests they're not too alarmed... yet.

India is also constrained by its current leftist government, which has allies who don't like India doing anything that helps America, regardless of whether it's in India's strategic interest or not (they're still trying to scuttle the India-US nuclear agreement, to the consternation of most Indian strategic analysts). There is also a view in Indian foreign policy circles that India's foreign policy in the past has been too ideologically driven (as in the non-aligned movement) and should be more pragmatic. Being friendly to America is part of that, but so also is not antagonising the neighbours, including the Burmese, Iranians, Pakistanis and Chinese. Many Indian democrats are unhappy with this.

As a rising major power, India remains a long way away from having the confidence in its democratic ideals and strategic position that it feels it can afford a muscular foreign policy yet. Maybe in ten years.

Posted by mjr007 at May 14, 2008 9:35 AM ET:

JMS,

Great comments. Thanks for contributing them.

Posted by anand at May 14, 2008 10:26 AM ET:

JMS,
The communists only have a tenth the seats in parliament:
http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers27/paper2692.html

Indian communists are pro China. They backed China in its war against India in 1962 and have no problem backing America in situations were China backs America.

At the moment, the communist seats are essential for the current government to stay in power (for the first and probably last time in Indian history.)

All this said, India has moved forward with its close relationship with Israel, America and Japan over the communists' (China's) objections. It is highly likely that India would do more to train and equip the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) if asked.

Pakistan does make a big deal out of India's Afghanistan policy JMS. It is an excuse often used for why Pakistan can't be more helpful to the Karzai government which they accuse of being in cahoots with India. It is only an excuse, but that doesn't stop it from being used.

Posted by JMS at May 14, 2008 11:51 PM ET:

Anand

Agreed, the Pakistanis do complain about India so much as twitching in the direction of Afghanistan (or anywhere else), but it's still just political noise for now. Relations between India and Pakistan are better now than at most times in their history, and that doesn't look likely to change in the short term. This might be the biggest uncredited success of the Bush Administration's foreign policy, engaging with Pakistan and India simultaneously, and forcing Musharraf to commit to at least some anti-terrorist policies has kept the India-Pakistan relationship relatively steady since 9-11.

Musharraf has for course tried to suggest that anti-Indian terrorism is different, and more acceptable, but the militants aren't entirely driving that train any longer. Pakistan's economy has improved tremendously since 9-11 and American aid, and although my knowledge in this area is far more sketchy, it seems the Pakistani business lobby are finally getting their share of the government's attention, and not just the militant factions. Given India's economic boom, the Pakistan business lobby are now claiming they can do the same for Pakistan given similar policies... but that will mean closer trading relations with India, which is happening, though slowly.

India is restrained from solving their Pakistan problem with force, but they might be able to do so with the promise of growth and prosperity, over time -- trade with India will do far more for Pakistan's strategic position than conflict. All of which suits American policy quite well, however much they'd like Indian troops in Afghanistan, because a nuclear standoff in the subcontinent would make conducting the war in Afghanistan infinitely more difficult.