Bhatinda blast: Three more die, toll rises to sixhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/bhatinda-blast-three-more-die-toll-rises-to-six-4503336/

Bhatinda blast: Three more die, toll rises to six

The car, a Maruti 800, exploded where it was parked, under a tall eucalyptus tree a few metres from where Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi held a rally.

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At the blast site in Bathinda on Wednesday. Gurmeet Singh

The bomb that exploded in a car near a Congress rally venue in Bathinda on Tuesday and killed six people would have claimed more lives if an explosives-packed pressure cooker in the vehicle had also gone off. Three people died on Tuesday, while as many succumbed later. The cooker appeared to have fallen off the car. It was found blackened but intact soon after the vehicle exploded. The cooker was packed to the brim with ball bearings, nuts and bolts. “Each of those is a bullet. Had the cooker exploded, many more people would have died,” said an investigating officer.

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The investigators have sealed off the blast site. Several police, forensic investigators, state and central intelligence teams visited the site for clues. The car, a Maruti 800, exploded where it was parked, under a tall eucalyptus tree a few metres from where Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi held a rally. Investigators described the bomb as a highly sophisticated IED.

“The registration number on the car was traced to a scooter in the name of Kharaiti Lal from Zira constituency of Ferozepur district,” Additional IG (counter-intelligence) Ajya Maluja told The Indian Express.

“But the name and address are both false. We are yet to locate Kharaiti Lal. The RC of this scooter had expired in 2010,” he added.

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The bomb was unlike anything seen in Punjab and was more like the ones used in Maoist areas, investigators said.

Investigators have found an electrical circuit with a detonator of a remote-controlled device. A police official did not rule out the possibility that the bomb could have been triggered using a mobile phone.

The bomb was was similar to the ones used in Maoist areas, investigators said.

Punjab police chief Suresh Arora visited the site in the morning and said that they cannot rule out the terror angle, “Our forensic teams are are on the job. NSG (National Security Guard) teams are also coming on Thursday.”

Congress’s leader Asha Kumari echoed the police saying that her party’s candidate, Harminder Singh Jassi, was the target of the attack. Jassi’s election manager Harpal Pali is among the dead.