An Islamist terrorist struck India today, bringing death and destruction in the western city of Pune, a financial hub 58 miles from Mumbai. According to the Indian Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), which has taken charge of the case, terrorists left an explosive-filled backpack under a counter at the "German Bakery," an establishment that is very popular with tourists and locals in this city of over five million people.
The bakery was completely demolished. At this point, there are nine dead, all Indians, and 57 injured. One of the injured remains in critical condition, and 19 have been released from the hospital as of this writing several hours after the blast.
While the specific identity of the terrorists has not been established, the ATS and major Indian officials have said that the terrorists were "Indian Mujahadeen," as opposed to the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack who were based in Pakistan. Officials have called the bakery a "soft target," and that the Islamists were really after "hard targets": the nearby Osho Ashram and Pune's Chabad House. The Ashram is a prominent institution in the city for religious Hindus, who are often targeted by Islamists; and the Chabad House is a center for religious Jews and was a primary target in the Mumbai attacks, as well as the site of the most gruesome incidents of torture by the terrorists.
The Indian government has also announced that American Islamist David Headley had scouted both the Osho Ashram and the Chabad House in preparation for terror attacks. Today's blast was related to Headley's actions. David Headley faces federal charges in a Chicago federal court. According to the FBI, they include "six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and Denmark, providing material support to foreign terrorist plots, and providing material support to [Pakistani terrorist group] Lashkar [e Taibe], and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India."
Security has become very tight all over India, and the ATS announced that it foiled one major terrorist attack only hours after the Pune blast. Police in the city of Vapi recovered 200 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, 600 detonators, and 200 gel sticks from known Islamists there. The state of Gujurat, where Vapi is located, has become a clarion cry for Islamists ever since communal violence there took the lives of over 1200 people.
Although it has not been suggested that Pakistan had a role in today's attack in Pune, the incident has placed the February 25 talks in jeopardy, with tensions again rising.