LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - A bomb outside a temple in northern India killed a child and injured several Hindu worshippers and foreign nationals on Tuesday.
A bomb left at a bathing point outside a Hindu temple in the pilgrim city of Varanasi -- a tourist destination -- went off around the time of crowded evening prayers, police said.
Police said a two-year-old girl died from her injuries in hospital. The blast triggered a small stampede in which several people were injured. Officials said about 20 to 25 people were hurt in the explosion and stampede.
Television images showed blood-soaked debris scattered outside the temple by the River Ganges, considered holy by Hindus and frequented by foreign tourists.
Women were seen sobbing amid overturned tables and chairs.
“We heard a very massive blast immediately. I saw people running,” witness Devendra Singh told NDTV television.
“I have seen the police, ambulance and the police vehicles coming in ... They have asked us to move and I am moving out from that place and going back to the hotel,” he said.
India remains jittery about the threat of militant strikes, especially since the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 which killed 166 people and raised tensions between India and Pakistan.
Three blasts killed at least 15 people and wounded 60 in Varanasi in 2006. In February, a powerful blast ripped through a restaurant in the western city of Pune, killing 17 people, the first major attack since Mumbai.
Two small bombs killed at least one person and injured 15 outside a packed cricket stadium in the southern software hub of Bangalore in April.
The wave of attacks stirred fears India may not be able to completely secure its cities from Islamist militant attacks as well as radical Hindu groups.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the attack “an attempt to weaken our resolve to fight evil forces of terrorism.”
“In this the terrorists will not succeed,” he told reporters.
Some local media said the attack could be the work of local Islamist militant group Indian Mujahideen, retaliating against a court verdict that gave Hindus two-thirds of a disputed religious site that once housed a 16th century mosque before being razed by Hindu zealots in 1992.
The attack comes a day after the 18th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where Varanasi is also located.
That led to some of the worst religious riots in India and remains a recruitment tool for Islamist militants.
G.K. Pillai, the top bureaucrat in India’s interior ministry, told reporters that a security alert had been sounded across the country, including airports and railway stations.
Additional reporting by C.J. Kuncheria, Matthias Williams and Rajesh Kumar Singh; Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Jon Hemming