Government had prior information of possible blast: Reddy

New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) Describing the bomb blast in the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad as an “intentional sabotage of peace and tranquillity in the state”, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Friday said his government had been receiving intelligence inputs that “some elements were trying to disturb the peace”.

Speaking to reporters here within hours of the blast that killed five people and injured 16, Reddy said: “In the past two-and-a-half months some inputs were coming from the union home ministry and our own intelligence sources that some elements were trying to disturb the peace.”

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Appealing to the people to show restraint and cooperate with the police and administration, he said “anti-social elements want to see that all communities in the state and the country should not live in peace and prosperity and so create these sort of problems””.

Giving details of the blast, Reddy said one bomb had exploded around 1.30 p.m. near a water tank in the mosque, while two others bombs were defused

Asked whether it was an act carried out by terrorists, he declined to give details saying, “we are still investigating the matter. We have no knowledge”.

“Had the two other bombs exploded, the situation could have been much worse,” Reddy said.

The chief minister announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.500,000 each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs.20,000 each to the injured persons.

He said he had also spoken to union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who he said had assured all central assistance to the state.

Reddy is leaving for Hyderabad Friday evening.

Meanwhile, the union home ministry has rushed a team of forensic experts to Hyderabad to assist the state police in investigations and to ascertain the nature of the explosives.

It also put all battalions of Rapid Action Force stationed in the state under the authority of the state government to contain any communal flare up, said home ministry sources.

Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta also spoke to Reddy and the chief secretary.

Later, Patil said: “Our initial priority for the time being is to reach help to the victims. The central government is in touch with the state government, and anything about the blast can be said only after investigations.”