Sixteen people were injured, two of them seriously, in an explosion in a congested locality near the office of Karnataka's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here Wednesday morning, police said, suspecting a bomb blast.
Several vehicles were gutted but there was no damage to the party office in the explosion that was initially believed to be a cylinder blast.
"The explosion took place around 10.20 a.m. and investigation is on to find out whether it is caused by a bomb as a motorbike was found at the site," Bangalore Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar told reporters.
The BJP office is located in the crowded residential locality of Malleshwaram in north Bangalore, about eight kilometres from the city centre.
The two seriously injured are women, one of whom has a suffered fracture in her leg, doctors at the KC General hospital, about five kilometres from the explosion site, told reporters.
"The others have suffered minor injuries with two of them complaining of loss of hearing," the doctors said.
Of the 16 injured, 11 are police personnel and five are civilians, including three women, Home Minister R. Ashoka said at the explosion site. The policemen were in the van that was gutted in the explosion.
Residents in the area told reporters that the blast shook the windowpanes of several houses.
"This act was to terrorise BJP and its workers," Ashoka said. "We have sent a report to the central government," the minister added.
Some local media houses spread unconfirmed rumours that a second blast occured in Hebbal. However Bangalore commissioner of police clarified that there was no second blast.
On the political front, RPN Singh (MoS Home) also criticised Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmad’s tweet, saying that "in matters relating to terror attacks, no political capital should be extracted".
Ahmad’s tweet, which said that the BJP stood to gain political points if the blast outside the party office was confirmed to be a terror attack, has sparked a backlash on social media.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde refused to confirm if the bomb blast was an act of terror.
Shinde stated that he had authorised an inquiry.
Image: Elderly people walk past charred vehicles as they are taken to a safer place after an explosion in a residential neighborhood near the office of Bharatiya Janata Party in Bangalore, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. A powerful bomb exploded Wednesday near the office of a political party in Bangalore, injuring at least 16 people, police said.