NEW DELHI – Several small bombs killed five people and wounded 98 Sunday in the northern Indian city of Patna, officials said, hours before the main opposition candidate for prime minister was due to address a political rally.
After seven homemade bombs went off, there reportedly was a brief period of panic among some of the hundreds of thousands of people gathered to see Narendra Modi, the controversial leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
However, the rally went on, and Modi, the longtime chief minister of western Gujarat state, made no mention of the blasts during his speech, focusing instead on attacking the ruling Congress Party-led government.
Modi, a leading opposition politician who has fought a fierce national campaign to displace the current government in next year’s elections, condemned the blasts a short time later in a Facebook post.
The first bomb went off around 9:15 a.m. in the toilet of a railway station, said Abhayanand, director-general of police for northern Bihar state, who only uses one name. This was followed by six more, most at the large field where the rally was held. Police also said they recovered four unexploded bombs, which local media reported appeared to be made with ammonium nitrate – a key ingredient in fertilizer – along with nails and a timer.
Dr. Amar Kant Jha, superintendent at Patna Medical College, said postmortems were being conducted on the five bodies. None of the 98 injured were seriously hurt, he added.