Monday, August 27, 2007

Horror in Hyderabad

REVIEW & OUTLOOK



August 27, 2007
Terror attacks in Iraq may dominate the headlines, but there's another, older democracy habitually targeted by terrorists: India.

On Saturday, two bombs exploded in the southern city of Hyderabad, killing more than 40 people and injuring around 50. As with the Madrid and London terror attacks, the bombs were set off in public places -- in Hyderabad's case, an amusement park and a popular restaurant -- in a bid to inflict the maximum amount of casualties and incite fear. A number of children were among those declared dead. And it could have been worse: Police later found unexploded bombs as well.

Terrorist tragedies like this are becoming depressingly familiar in India. Saturday's attacks follow a bombing at a Hyderabad mosque in May that killed 11 people. Last September, two bombs at Malegaon claimed 30 lives. And last July's Mumbai train bombings took the lives of 187.

The motivations behind these bombings are unclear, in part because India faces a multiplicity of domestic and international terror threats. Abroad, Indian authorities have fingered Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups. At home, the Naxalite rebellion is responsible for a wide swathe of violence across the country's poorer states.

India's security forces haven't been as swift as their American and British counterparts in retooling their operations to fight a more agile foe. Most new military spending, for instance, still goes to fight Cold War-era threats. No one has been arrested for May's mosque bombing, and there's fear that the perpetrators of Saturday's attack may go unpunished, too.

Fortunately, terrorists cannot easily sow discord in India, where democracy and tolerance are deeply rooted. Saturday's bombings provoked horror across the country, not religious or race riots. The more frequent the bombings, however, the less patient the public will become. Here's hoping that Delhi learns the right lessons from Saturday's tragedy.

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