Pope Sends Condolences for Attacks in Bombay

Police in India Suspect Islamic Ties to Deadly Blasts

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 26, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The two attacks in Bombay that killed 50 people prompted a message of condolence from John Paul II to the archbishop of Bombay.



In a telegram addressed to Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Pope manifested his closeness to the victims' relatives and the civil authorities, and exhorted people to reject the violence that has caused such "useless suffering."

"His Holiness prays for the repose of the victims and implores God's gift of strength and comfort for those who are injured and mourning," the message said.

The papal telegram was sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano in the wake of Monday's attacks. The Holy Father added that he hoped peace would triumph "over the forces of hatred and mistrust."

Cardinal Dias too condemned the bomb attacks, which left 154 wounded. "Those responsible for these barbarous attacks, whatever be their personal motives, must realize that violence can never bring a solution to any problem and can only create new and worse ones," said a statement issued on his behalf.

"The archbishop commends the souls of the innocent victims killed in the blasts to the mercy of Almighty God and offers his sincere condolences to their near and dear ones," the statement said. "He wishes a speedy recovery to those who have been injured and calls upon the statutory agents of law and order to ensure that justice be meted out to those responsible for the senseless bombings."

The bombs in two taxis exploded minutes apart, ripping through a crowded jewelry market, the Zaveri Bazaar, and in front of a colonial-era tourist attraction, the Gateway of India. The blasts shattered windows of the luxury Taj Mahal hotel facing the Gateway and several other buildings.

Police Commissioner Ranjit Sharma said investigators were focusing on the Students Islamic Movement of India, a militant group outlawed in 2001, and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
The latter is one of more than a dozen Islamic rebel groups fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir since 1989, seeking independence for the Himalayan province or its merger with Muslim-dominated Pakistan.