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Three blasts in Mumbai
July 13, 2011 12:05 PM   Subscribe


 
Fucking hell, not again.

.
posted by kmz at 12:07 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


For those interested, links to coverage from the BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera.
posted by reductiondesign at 12:14 PM on July 13, 2011


The Mumbai Police sent an SMS to all cellphone users in the city minutes after the blast, asking them to stay indoors.

Is this something specific to India, following previous attacks? Or a service one signs up for?
posted by maryr at 12:16 PM on July 13, 2011


maryr: "The Mumbai Police sent an SMS to all cellphone users in the city minutes after the blast, asking them to stay indoors.

Is this something specific to India, following previous attacks? Or a service one signs up for?
"

We've got something like it on my university campus, but I don't know if any municipalities do this.

Just awful news, terrible.
posted by Mngo at 12:18 PM on July 13, 2011


Who's responsible? That is, what flavor of terrorist?

Also,

The city wore a steely clam this evening.

I'm sorry, but this is causing me to giggle uncontrollably. I'll let myself out.
posted by Gator at 12:19 PM on July 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


We have a phone notification in my town, but it's a signup thing for parking bans and snow days. How do they know what cell phone users to SMS? Just those nearby certain towers?
posted by maryr at 12:19 PM on July 13, 2011


> Who's responsible? That is, what flavor of terrorist?

No word on that yet, but don't be surprised if it's the same dicks who shot up the place in 2008. Such a cowardly way to go about it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:22 PM on July 13, 2011


Such a cowardly way to go about it.

As opposed to the non-cowardly forms of terrorism. "Excuse me good sir...we're here to bomb your establishment, would you mind moving out of the way. Thank you for cooperating with us during these troubling times."
posted by Fizz at 12:31 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is Pakistan's thank you card for the $800 million in funding cuts.
posted by mullingitover at 12:31 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


> As opposed to the non-cowardly forms of terrorism

It goes without saying that I was condemning terrorism in general.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:32 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Excuse me good sir...we're here to bomb your establishment, would you mind moving out of the way.

Didn't the IRA used to do this?
posted by ryanrs at 12:33 PM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


bomb with warnings?. Yes, they did come to think of it.
posted by clavdivs at 12:37 PM on July 13, 2011


The city wore a steely clam this evening.

That's reassuring.

.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:39 PM on July 13, 2011


> bomb with warnings?. Yes, they did come to think of it.

Actually, so did US domestic terror groups like the Weather Underground.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:42 PM on July 13, 2011


Since I know so little of what is happening in India, reading the comments was interesting, especially this: Our leaders say terrorism has no religion, but terrorists claim they are doing it for their religion as their organizations names indicate .May be in trying to portray a secular image we are losing the game. A game in which stakes are our lives.

That is a tough call. Would naming them as Muslims help? or would it just inflame the hatred. I tend to think terrorists use the cloak of religion to dress up their actions when really it is more about political blackmail.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:43 PM on July 13, 2011


bomb with warnings?. Yes, they did come to think of it.

Don't see this as much of a mitigation. Too many chances of cock up between warning and possible evacuation.

You light the fuse, you are ultimately responsible for anyone who gets hurt.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:47 PM on July 13, 2011


Secret Life of Gravy: "I tend to think terrorists use the cloak of religion to dress up their actions when really it is more about political blackmail."

This. The ISI has enough blood on its hands to paint a fire engine:
The Inter-Services Intelligence has often been accused of playing a role in major terrorist attacks across the world including the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States,[38][39] terrorism in Kashmir,[40][41][42] Mumbai Train Bombings,[43] London Bombings,[44] Indian Parliament Attack,[45] Varnasi bombings,[46] Hyderabad bombings[47][48] and Mumbai terror attacks.[49][50] The ISI is also accused of supporting Taliban forces[51] and recruiting and training mujahideen[51][52] to fight in Afghanistan[53][54] and Kashmir.[54] Based on communication intercepts US intelligence agencies concluded Pakistan's ISI was behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, a charge that the governments of India and Afghanistan had laid previously.[55] Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has constantly reiterated allegations that militants operating training camps in Pakistan have used it as a launch platform to attack targets in Afghanistan, urged western military allies to target extremist hideouts in neighbouring Pakistan.[56] When the United States, during the Clinton administration, targeted al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan with cruise missiles, Slate reported that two officers of the ISI were killed.[57]
posted by mullingitover at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


And weren't the IRA warnings designed to double the panic and confusion? I remember 'alerts' which weren't all that helpful...
posted by jrochest at 12:51 PM on July 13, 2011


Can't wait for Fashion to react: Steely clam is the new black.
posted by Cranberry at 12:53 PM on July 13, 2011


maryr: Some municipalities (in the U.S.) have a reverse 911 system. For instance, San Diego (IIRC) used it during wildfires to alert people in the middle of the night that they needed to evacuate. In my town, you can sign up to get alerts by email, phone, cell phone, IM, fax, PDA, and/or pager. All landlines (except unlisted) are automatically signed up. So far, they've used it for an Ambert Alert or two; after the blizzard this winter, with the location of the local warming center; and for an alert on a lost Alzheimer's patient (and with a follow-up saying he'd been found okay).
posted by bentley at 12:55 PM on July 13, 2011


SLoG, sadly the history of communal violence in Mumbai goes a fair way back. Wikipedia has a round up of the problems of the last 50 years. Note the actions of the Hindu chauvinist Shiv Sena, as well as ICI-backed terror.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:57 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Too early to guess who did this, I suppose. But not too early to be angry at the idiots, whoever they are.

.
posted by mumimor at 1:00 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


How do they know what cell phone users to SMS? Just those nearby certain towers?

Probably, yes - it's trivially easy to know where a cell phone user is, in fact this is how cell routing works - by keeping track of which users are near each tower. The network operators' system probably has an emergency alert facility built-in.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:05 PM on July 13, 2011


bomb with warnings?. Yes, they did come to think of it.

Actually, so did US domestic terror groups like the Weather Underground.


Also the Baader-Meinhof group (or RAF) in Germany, though there were occasional accidental injuries anyway. All of the assaults attributed to the RAF were directed at specific targets ("promoters of the fascist state") and this inspired a huge amount of support from the public (something like 25% of the German public were pro-Baader-Meinhof). Hell, they even got their own Talking Heads song.

Blowing up innocent children... yeah, that's just cowardly.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:19 PM on July 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


You goddamn motherfuckers.
posted by Errant at 1:29 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do they know what cell phone users to SMS? Just those nearby certain towers?

There is a feature in GSM/UMTS cell networks called "Cell Broadcast" which does exactly what you describe - it sends a message to every phone connected to a certain tower or towers. It sends these messages as a literal broadcast as opposed to a series of individual messages to each phone, giving the ability to send messages to a large number of people very quickly.

I don't know of any operators in the USA who use cell broadcast, but it seems to be much more common in other parts of the world.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 1:30 PM on July 13, 2011


I was in Pune, about 100 miles from Mumbai when the 2006 bombings killed over 200 people. I was working in an office there and what struck me most was how my co-workers took the whole thing in stride. It's probably a side effect of how (relatively) common this is, but it still surprised me. If this happened in NYC, people here would be losing there shit. I was talking to one guy who mentioned that his dad rode one of the train lines that was bombed every day to work. He said that his dad was okay, and basically shrugged the whole thing off. Life went on.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 1:31 PM on July 13, 2011


I always felt like Steely Clam's stuff was a little over-produced.
posted by phaedon at 1:31 PM on July 13, 2011


I always felt like Steely Clam's stuff was a little over-produced.

like reeling in the weirs? kippers charlemagne? rikki don't lose that grouper? black dhow? fm (no haddock at all)?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:41 PM on July 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


sorry

this really worries me - i have the uneasy feeling that if not this time, at some future time, something like this is going to happen, india is going to decide that it's time to do something about it and all hell will break loose

and yes, i suspect pakistan
posted by pyramid termite at 1:44 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Steely Clam bit is funny and all, but sheesh, a bunch of people died, over a hundred injured. Plus whatever horrible fallout is going to occur over this (e.g. India goes aggro on Pakistan. So maybe it's not funny ha ha joke time.
posted by angrycat at 1:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Who's responsible? That is, what flavor of terrorist?

A bit too early to say "here, this terrorist group", but there is very little to differentiate various terrorist groups except minor differences in their self-proclaimed ideologies anyway. These differences usually are like "we kill for the cause of Afghanistan, but they kill for the cause of Kashmir", as if that makes any difference to the massacred innocents and their loved ones.

Incredibly sad and frustrating news, this one. I don't know what the Indian government is going to do in response. The "peace talks" with Pakistan had only recently resumed. I suppose they wouldn't stop, especially since Pakistani government has been quick to officially condemn this attack.

Tomorrow morning, the banal stories of "spirit of mumbai" and "stock market rises in the face of terrorist attacks", I guess.
posted by vidur at 1:49 PM on July 13, 2011


I don't have the link handy, but the Indian Prime Minister had ruled out "start a war with Pakistan in response to a terrorist attack" as an option. The line of reasoning seemed to be that India has too much to lose from such a course of action, and not a lot to gain.

As Lazlo Hollyfeld said upthread, these attacks have almost become a part of people's daily life. I have been out of India for a few years now (will be back in a couple of years), but checking the news every morning for a possible terrorist attack is a matter of routine for me, and for many people I know.

So, this morning, sitting here in Sydney, I open the Times of India website and see this horrible news. What do I do? Nothing. I didn't even call my friends and family in Mumbai. There was a time when I used to, but now, I can't bring myself to take on the emotional burden of making those calls. When something does happen to a loved one, I guess someone will let me know. Yes, I know it sounds incredibly crass, but that's just the way it is for many Indians.
posted by vidur at 2:01 PM on July 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have pyramid termites' feeling at times but I must remind myself that India does not let "All hell break loose", it's just simply not done.

Judging from some reports, a few unexploded decives were found and petrol bombs were used. Low level though that does not exclude a professional/terrorist organization.
posted by clavdivs at 2:10 PM on July 13, 2011


decives, remain clam, it is a typo.
posted by clavdivs at 2:11 PM on July 13, 2011


I must remind myself that India does not let "All hell break loose", it's just simply not done.

i hope so, but that's what people said in europe in 1914 - and 1938 - then someone miscalculates - they think the other guy won't back down - and then ...

i think we're getting close
posted by pyramid termite at 2:20 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is Pakistan's thank you card for the $800 million in funding cuts.

They shouldn't be too upset: "The cutoffs do not affect any immediate deliveries of military sales to Pakistan, like F-16 fighter jets, or nonmilitary aid, the officials said."
posted by homunculus at 2:47 PM on July 13, 2011


twoleftfeet: "Also the Baader-Meinhof group (or RAF) in Germany, though there were occasional accidental injuries anyway. All of the assaults attributed to the RAF were directed at specific targets ("promoters of the fascist state") and this inspired a huge amount of support from the public (something like 25% of the German public were pro-Baader-Meinhof). Hell, they even got their own Talking Heads song.."

Ya know - I was just thinking about Baader-Meinhof just the other day!
posted by symbioid at 2:55 PM on July 13, 2011


clavdivs: "decives, remain clam, it is a typo."

remain clam? Are you verbing nouns again? DAMNIT!
posted by symbioid at 2:56 PM on July 13, 2011


Live video news feed from NDTV, India's largest (?) English news channel.
posted by vidur at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2011


i hope so, but that's what people said in europe in 1914 - and 1938 - then someone miscalculates - they think the other guy won't back down - and then ...

Please, No. The real parallel is with terror attacks in India, not with some other country in some other era. Every time one of these things have happened, people have speculated about an India-Pakistan war.

The last time an actual military confrontation took place between India and Pakistan was this - in 1999. And it had nothing to do with terrorism.

The last time a terrorist attack looked like it might lead to a war, was in 2001, when the Indian Parliament was attacked by terrorists. India's military was mobilized and kept in war readiness mode for 10 months or so, but no war happened. That was when it was understood by everyone concerned that India will not go to war over terrorist attacks. This has since been formally confirmed by India's Prime Minister (I'd give a link, but have to rush to work now, so may be later).

So, pending any real world developments that hint that a war might be triggered, let us stop with the speculation. It is not a productive line of thinking.
posted by vidur at 3:04 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For some reason I'm reminded of Changing border guards...
posted by symbioid at 3:11 PM on July 13, 2011


About twenty years ago, phoned warnings preceding terrorist bombings were common. Many of these bombs were small and the advance warning was partly to increase the psychological impact. The bombings with prior warnings were more about propaganda than deadly conflict. This was the period when Brian Jenkins said, "terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead" and "terrorism is theater>'

In the 90's, things changed. The biggest single influence was religiously motivated terrorism. Terrorist bombings stopped being a psychological adjunct to violence and became an end in themselves. The transition was very apparent and it was also cross-cultural. In the US, anti-abortion and racist bombings became more deadly. In East Asia, the Tamil Tigers pioneered the use of suicide bombs, which rapidly became a favored tactic of Muslim extremists of various stripes.

Currently, the norm in bombings is deadliness rather than drama. Probably the biggest difference between then and now is that earlier terrorism was partly or mostly an attempt at coercive negotiation and currently it's just about the killing.

One possible complication of terrorist attacks in India is they can be spillover from conflicts involving Pakistan, as the attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2002 were partly a diversion from the battle at Tora Bora.

Currently, it's just bootless speculation about who is behind the attacks. It may take time to sort out who is behind it, but it's fairly rare for attackers to remain unidentified.
posted by warbaby at 3:36 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


er, 2001, not 2002...
posted by warbaby at 3:36 PM on July 13, 2011


I would imagine that a coordinated bombing like this probably took long enough to plan that it was thought out before the cutting of some aide to Pakistan.
posted by rosswald at 4:17 PM on July 13, 2011


I would imagine that a coordinated bombing like this probably took long enough to plan that it was thought out before the cutting of some aide to Pakistan.

Why would it take long to plan? All you have to do is sync the timers.

Bombs? Check.
Timers? Check.
Synced? Check.

OK, that's lunch.

Fuck these motherfuckers, though.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:22 PM on July 13, 2011


I would imagine that a coordinated bombing like this probably took long enough to plan that it was thought out before the cutting of some aide to Pakistan.

At this stage, no significant details are known about these attacks, but it is not necessary for such attacks to have been planned after some trigger event. Terrorist organizations often have sleeper cells, with pre-planned attacks. All they need to carry out an attack is a signal to go ahead.
posted by vidur at 5:00 PM on July 13, 2011


Why would it take long to plan?

Sheesh, you've never planned a coordinated bombing attack, have you?
posted by ryanrs at 5:36 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


From India's Foreign Relations - 2008 (PDF; official publication of India's foreign ministry):
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was right in his observation that the issue was not one of war but one of terrorism and the option of war were not on Indian table at least. The External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his statements never used 'the ready for war' rhetoric of the type emanated from Pakistani leadership both civil and military. As a minister looking after external relations he was always speaking of various international options to which he hoped Pakistan would respond. No senior Indian military officer indulged in bellicose lingo. Defence Minister ab initio had explicitly ruled out any military action in making Pakistan see reason.
Also in the same report:
Reacting to the remarks by the US President-elect Obama that every sovereign nations has the right to protect its territory, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the same day (December 2) “time will show” what action India will take in response to the Mumbai terror attacks. Every sovereign nation has the right to protect its territorial integrity and take action as it saw fit, Mukherjee told journalists. He, however, cautioned against misinterpreting his observation to mean military action. “What will be done, time will show and you will come to know,” EAM said when asked about U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s suggestion that India had the “right to protect itself.” Mr. Mukherjee’s remark came even as three influential United States Senators, including John McCain “struck by the emotions” expressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Mukherjee, urged India not to consider the option of war. Media said that highly placed official sources also dismissed the talk of India mobilising troops on the border, suspending air and rail links and putting a halt to the peace process as “motivated propaganda,” aimed at diverting the attention from the Mumbai attacks.
And such sentiments go back to 2002 at least.

War between India and Pakistan is not a logical impossibility. One can speculate about war between any two countries, and India & Pakistan have certainly given the world many reasons for such speculation. But ever since the two countries went nuclear in 1998, the possibility of full-scale war between them has steadily diminished thanks to the prospect of Mutually Assured Destruction. The 1999 Kargil conflict was geographically very restricted, with Pakistan claiming that it wasn't even fighting, and India refusing to deploy Air Force to hit trans-border (well, "Line of Control" actually - so yes, India refused to hit targets in an area that it officially lays claim to - thereby implicitly recognizing that the area practically belongs to Pakistan) targets. In fact, a "war" wasn't even declared officially.

I should get some work done now
posted by vidur at 5:52 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for comments to the effect that only a political solution will work, and that we need to withdraw our troops from India.
posted by happyroach at 6:34 PM on July 13, 2011


Sheesh, you've never planned a coordinated bombing attack, have you?

Do waterballons count?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:41 PM on July 13, 2011


Vidur, thanks for the breath of sanity and hard info. It's always hard to deal with news like this without spiraling into tinfoil hat mode.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:26 PM on July 13, 2011


Terrorist attacks are usually carried out as quickly as they are ready. The reason being that security forces are continually trying to detect and disrupt attacks. So terrorists are usually in the position of "use it or lose it." Coordinated attacks require planning, reconnaissance and logistics that make them more vulnerable to prevention than lone operators, so they can be more vulnerable.

In brief, attacks usually happen as fast as possible and do not involve vulnerable waiting periods.
posted by warbaby at 10:19 PM on July 13, 2011


warbaby, I agree with you in the general, broad sense. Yes, terrorists attacks would typically be carried out with a sense of urgency. But the specifics of this case hint at nothing of the sort.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I'd guess that you're not very familiar with India and may, therefore, be assigning more sophistication to these terrorists than they needed to possess.

In all probability, these terrorists were either radicalized Indian citizens, or from one of the neighbouring countries. So, they are virtually indistinguishable from everyone else around. If they spoke Urdu, shouted Allah-o-Akbar and said a prayer right in the middle of a crowded marketplace in Mumbai, it would hardly get a second look.

This wasn't an attack like the 26/11 Mumbai attack that required months of planning. This was a simple timer-linked IED type of attack. Such attacks are extremely common in Afghanistan too (except over there you need to plan it a bit to hit a convoy). In fact, according to the clearer picture now emerging, the blasts weren't as closely timed as believed earlier. The devices didn't appear to use anything more sophisticated than Ammonium Nitrate, a common enough chemical (hint: fertilizers). No reconnaissance is required if you are a sleeper cell - you already know the crowded areas (hint: everywhere in Mumbai). So, no great planning, recce or logistics are required for such an attack. This is the kind of attack that suits a sleeper cell the best.

I am not claiming that this attack was carried out by such a cell. Information of that sort is not yet known. Just that this wasn't a sophisticated attack, and required nothing more than a basic knowledge of explosives and a shitload of moral depravity.
posted by vidur at 11:19 PM on July 13, 2011


happyroach: "I'm waiting for comments to the effect that only a political solution will work, and that we need to withdraw our troops from India."
You realize that not everything that happens in the world is about the US, right?
posted by brokkr at 2:08 AM on July 14, 2011


Sheesh, you've never planned a coordinated bombing attack, have you?

I strongly recommend the Indian movie Black Friday for a well-made look at the motivations and planning behind the 1993 Bombay attacks. I coincidentally just rewatched the movie two days ago and it's well worth watching.
posted by peacheater at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Talking to TOI, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said, "I am convinced of the need for India and Pakistan to discuss such issues of vital importance for the future of this region.. I know the extent and pain that we as a country have to deal with, and has been inflicted upon us by cross-border terrorism, I don't think the memories of that can fade so easily. But because we share borders, we will always have to deal with them. I don't think unadulterated confrontation or speaking the language of conflict can help us or Pakistan."
posted by vidur at 7:17 PM on July 14, 2011


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