Taiwanese Tourists Shot in New Delhi
By JIM YARDLEY and HARI KUMAR
|Image from the NY Times of pressure cooker bomb in the car.|
NEW DELHI — Two armed assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire on a tourist bus parked outside of New Delhi’s most famous mosque on Sunday, in an attack that comes as the city prepares to host the Commonwealth Games in two weeks.
Two Taiwanese tourists were wounded in the shooting, which occurred outside the Jama Masjid mosque at 11:30 a.m., the police said. The two attackers indiscriminately fired seven or eight rounds into the bus before escaping on their motorcycle as a nearby police officer tried to chase. A citywide manhunt was under way for the two attackers.
“It is difficult to say what the motive is,” Karnail Singh, the New Delhi joint police commissioner, told reporters.
The target as well as the timing immediately raised questions about whether the shooting was a deliberate terrorist attack. Security is a paramount concern for the Games, which open Oct. 3 and are expected to bring thousands of athletes and spectators to New Delhi for the sports competition among nations of the former British empire.
Various media organizations published a letter in Hindi purporting to be from the Indian Mujahedeen and claiming responsibility for the attack. The Indian government considers the group to be a terrorist organization. It is unclear which news organizations received the original communication, which also threatened the Games, and by late evening there were questions and skepticism about what connection the letter might have to the actual attack.
On Sunday, Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of New Delhi, sought to calm fears about the attack, urging the public not to panic and repeating that the police had initiated a major investigation into the shooting. “It is not correct to write or assume that this is a terror attack,” Ms. Dikshit said on NDTV, a 24-hour news channel in New Delhi.
Commonwealth Games organizers said in a statement on Sunday that the shooting would have “no impact” on the Games. Officials “have made elaborate arrangements to provide the Commonwealth Games athletes and officials a safe and secure environment,” it said.
The two injured Taiwanese tourists were undergoing surgery in a New Delhi hospital on Sunday. Dr. Amit Banerjee, of Lok Narayan Jay Prakash Hospital, said that the tourists had suffered abdominal injuries.
The Jama Masjid is one of India’s largest mosques and is located in the old part of the city, across from the historic Red Fort. Built in the 17th century, the mosque attracts thousands of Muslims for Friday Prayer. In 2006, it was attacked by two low-intensity blasts that injured more than a dozen people. The mosque itself was not damaged.
Heather Timmons contributed reporting.