Explosions in Mumbai again today. Three blasts: One in Zaveri Bazaar, one in Dadar, and one in Opera House.
There absolutely will be calls for PM Singh to respond, perhaps even to retaliate -- but against whom? No one has taken credit yet for the attacks. Part of India's challenge in 2008 was responding to that attack in a timely manner, because attribution took so long.
In the meantime, Pakistan wasted no time in issuing a statement (updated 7/14/2011 1:35PM EDT) condemning the attacks and expressing sympathy and support for India:
President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Government and the people of Pakistan, have condemned the blasts in Mumbai and expressed distress on the loss of lives and injuries. The President and the Prime Minister have expressed their deepest sympathies to the Indian leadership on the loss of lives, injuries and damage to property in Mumbai.I don't hope for a long attribution period -- someone clearly is responsible for these coordinated attacks, and they must be held accountable. But if -- just if -- the attackers are linked somehow to Pakistan, this may be the last straw.
I'm praying that this is not the case.
UPDATE 7/13/2011, 5:30PM EDT: Adding some details from the following Time blog post, which makes a good point -- this attack seems more like the 2006 and 1993 bombings, not the 2008 attack, in a couple of respects. First, its lifespan was just a few minutes, not a three-day siege. This indicates a lower level of coordination and logistical sophistication.
Second, the locations where the explosions occurred indicate the targets were local Mumbaikers, not foreigners or the wealthy.
Not 100% sure what this means, but if I've learned anything through my terrorism studies, it is that a terrorist organization tends to stick to a certain vision and MO. The first point, regarding coordination and sophistication, is less salient here, but the second -- that the targets were completely different from 2008 -- just might indicate that LeT isn't behind this one.
No guarantees though. More updates as they come in.
UPDATE 7/13/2011, 5:45PM EDT: Daniel Markey at the Council on Foreign Relations had written last year about the next terrorist attack in India post-11/26. His conclusion was that even in the wake of another attack, India and Pakistan's tensions would not be exacerbated to the point of nuclear exchange. Certainly an interesting read, but as much as I'd like to believe it in my heart, I'm not completely convinced. Fingers still crossed.
UPDATE 7/14/2011, 1:28PM EDT: It slipped my mind, in yesterday's frenzy of activity, that in the article I had written about India-Pakistan just two days ago, I included the following line:
New Delhi may not be so reserved if and when another attack occurs on its soil.My intent is not to sound sensationalist or to engage in fear-mongering -- if anything, the one thing from which we all would benefit right now is a level-headed approach to what is going on. But there is a serious concern that each time any attack occurs on Indian soil, India and Pakistan will come closer to armed conflict -- whether Pakistan is complicit in the attack or not.
On a separate note, the latest reports put the number of casualties at 21, with well over 100 injured / hospitalized. Apparently some security analysts are starting to make some guesses as to who is behind the attacks, but nothing concrete has been determined yet, so I'm not going to spin the rumor mill.
More to come ...
UPDATE 7/15/2011, 2:30PM EDT: This Reuters article indicates that the explosives used were not simple crude devices, but somewhat sophisticated. This Times of India piece says the devices used a mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. These two details, if and when confirmed, may suggest prior training. PM Singh and local Mumbai authorities are still sorting out the damage to determine who is behind the attack.
Nothing conclusive yet.
UPDATE 7/17/2011, 10:30PM EDT: In this article from Pakistan source The News, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao says it is too early to blame any country for last week's attacks.
So it seems the authorities are still sifting through the rubble and piecing together all the clues in this puzzle. Apparently, India-Pakistan relations haven't been derailed for now.
UPDATE 7/18/2011, 12:12PM EDT: This Hindustan Times article confirms that the detonation devices used ammonium nitrate fuel oil as the primary explosive, and adds that ball bearings were a part of the package as well. The detonators were timed, but investigations continue into what specific type of timers was used.
Also, the consensus in the media seems to be that the death toll rests at 19, and that the number of people injured is 129.