A day after two homemade bombs killed at least 66 people on a train traveling to Pakistan from India, the governments of both countries on Monday condemned the attack and pledged that it would not deter their aim of reducing longstanding hostilities on the subcontinent.
The office of Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, on Monday morning called the bombing “an act of terror” and promised to apprehend those responsible. Pakistan also swiftly denounced the attack, which occurred on the eve of a visit by Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, the Pakistani foreign minister, to the Indian capital, and two weeks before officials from both countries were to meet for the first time to share information on terrorism-related activities.
The bombs exploded at midnight Sunday, trapping slumbering passengers aboard the Attari Express in flames, and by the time the bodies were pulled out of the train, which had carried more than 600 passengers from New Delhi to the India-Pakistan border, they were thoroughly burned and identification was difficult.
All told, 66 bodies were taken out of two burned-out compartments; 13 survivors somehow escaped. Twelve hours later, the two coaches were still smoldering.
Peace talks between India and Pakistan have crawled along for three years, yielding little more than an accord on transportation links like the Attari Express. The two last stepped close to the brink of war in early 2002. They have fought each other in three wars since independence from British rule in 1947.
“This is an act of sabotage,” Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Indian railroad minister, told reporters in the eastern city of Patna, according to wire service reports. “This is an attempt to derail the improving relationship between India and Pakistan.”
In a statement reported by Reuters, Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, said, “We will not allow elements which want to sabotage the ongoing peace process to succeed in their nefarious designs.”
The overnight train from Delhi to the border post at Attari began service 30 years ago, and after a two-year suspension at a time of acute enmity between India and Pakistan, resumed service in January 2004. From Attari, passengers board a second train, which takes them to Lahore, in Pakistan.
The explosions occurred when the train had advanced about a mile from Diwana, a tiny station here surrounded by wheat fields.
Three other bombs were found in the train’s other coaches, according to police and railroad officials; a police officer at the scene said he saw a suitcase packed with eight or nine bottles filled with an unknown liquid, along with a detonator.
V.K. Duggal, the home secretary, told reporters that sulfur and kerosene had probably been used.
Yadav, the railroad minister, said Monday evening that one person had been detained in connection with the blasts, according to Reuters, but offered no further details.
Navtej Sarna, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters that visas would be issued to Pakistani relatives of those who were feared dead.