live excluisve report:Four Pune blasts, one injured, on a night when Shinde was expected

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Pune this evening saw four low-intensity blasts in a span of seven minutes on its busy Junglee Maharaj Road. Two other bombs have been defused by the Anti-Terror Squad. One person has been injured. All the bombs were placed within a kilometre.

Sushil Kumar Shinde, who took over today as India’s Home Minister, was scheduled to be in the city tonight to preside over a prize-giving ceremony. He cancelled his plans at the last minute.

The explosions took place between 7.28 and 7.35 pm during rush hour in the heart of the city on Junglee Maharaj Road, crowded with restaurants, shops and the large Sambhaji Park, popular for family outings in the evening. The blasts took place outside the Balgandharva auditorium used to stage plays, at a statue near that theatre, opposite a McDonalds outlet and near a bank. One of the bombs, placed on a cycle, was hooked up to sophisticated circuitry, say sources.

In Mumbai, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan called a meeting with senior officials to step up security for the financial capital.

Mr Shinde cancelled his trip to Pune at the last minute to meet with officials in his new assignment at the home ministry, said Jitender Singh, the junior Home Minister. “Please stay calm…the government of India and Maharashtra will work towards cracking this,” Mr Singh said on NDTV.

The Anti-Terror Squad is examining CCTV footage from the branch of McDonald’s where one of the explosion took place. The police says it has fanned out across the city; it has urged residents to report any suspicious object and not to touch unclaimed objects.

In February 2010, 17 people were killed in a bomb blast at the popular German Bakery near Pune’s famous Osho ashram. After being arrested in the US, Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley confessed to having filmed the bakery to help in the planning and execution of the terror attack.

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