A bomb hidden in a metal canister exploded during a Hindu ceremony Tuesday, wounding 20 people, including four foreigners, in India's temple town of Varanasi. Police said the blast appeared to be a terrorist attack but would not say who they suspected.
The bomb was hidden in a milk container on the Sheetla Ghat, one of many stone staircases leading to the Ganges river, according to police official Brij Lal.
It was a low intensity blast which occurred around 6:20 PM. As a result of the blast 4 to 5 people got injured," G.K. Pillai, India's top bureaucrat in the interior ministry told reporters. "Subsequent to that, we understand that there was a small stampede ... as a result of which between 15 and 20 people also got injured."
The force of the explosion ripped away a metal railing and damaged stones up to 60 meters away, said a witness, Ramatama Srivastava.
Three victims, including one of the foreigners, were hospitalized in serious condition. It was not immediately clear where the foreigners were from.
Srivastava - who spoke by telephone from Varanasi, which is about 300 kilometers southeast of the Uttar Pradesh state capital of Lucknow said he noticed the foreigners were watching the Hindu prayer ceremony and taking photographs.
In March 2006, twin bombings blamed on a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group tore through a train station and a temple in Varanasi, killing 20 people.
India remains jittery about the threat of militant strikes, especially since the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 which killed 166 people and raised tensions between India and Pakistan.
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