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Explosions rock Mumbai, India

NEW DELHI — Three explosions rocked Mumbai on Wednesday evening, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens more, officials said. The blasts set nerves ajar in India's financial capital, where memories of a huge terror attack in late 2008 are still raw.

The explosions occurred in a series about 6:45 p.m. as people were headed out for dinner or traveling home after work. Police attributed at least one of the blasts to a bomb.

One of the blasts took place in the crowded Dadar neighborhood in the center of the city near a major railway station. The other two were in south Mumbai, one in Jhaveri Bazaar, a famous jewelry market, and the other in the busy business district of Opera House, a major diamond district.

Mumbai was placed on high alert. Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram urged residents and the rest of the nation to remain calm.

Television footage showed a fire blazing shortly after the blast, a dismembered body lying on the ground covered in dust and dozens of police officials, several with automatic weapons and bulletproof vests, trying to restore order.

In the Dadar explosion, initial suspicion focused on a meter box above a bus stand where the blast occurred. In the Jhaveri Bazaar, a bomb was concealed beneath an umbrella, Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik told reporters. He described both the Jhaveri and Opera House blasts as "high-intensity."

Pravin Gada, 38, who owns a shop in the Jhaveri Bazaar area, said he heard the blast and thought a building had collapsed. Rushing out to investigate, he saw glass strewn around a lane famous for vegetarian snacks just beside a shop selling jewelry-making equipment.

"I saw six or eight seriously injured people with blood all over them being lifted in floor mats by locals and taken to the hospital in taxis," Gada said. "The bodies were covered in blood. I usually can't look at injuries without getting queasy, but this was the first time I'd seen such injuries. The skin of some of the injured was completely gone."

The explosions represent the first major attack in Mumbai since 10 militants laid siege to the city over a 60-hour period in November 2008, killing 166 people.

No organization claimed responsibility for Wednesday's blasts, though suspicion focused on Pakistan-based militant groups or a homegrown terror organization known as the Indian Mujahedin.

India and Pakistan have recently resumed talks on improved relations that were halted after the 2008 Mumbai attack that targeted two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a busy train station.

The Indian government came under sharp criticism after the 2008 attack for its lumbering response, poor tactics and inadequate equipment. The government said this time elite National Security Guard officers in Mumbai were on standby and that investigators and forensic specialists were being rushed in from New Delhi.

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