NEW DELHI, Sept. 13, 2008 -- Five blasts in the nation's capital killed at least 18 and injured more than 100 people in a span of 22 minutes earlier this evening.
The blasts began at 6:15 p.m., with the city center and markets crowded with people strolling as the day began to cool and the sun set.
"I was crossing the street when suddenly I was covered in a cloud of black smoke," said Rajiv Aarya, 32.
Aarya quickly realized what had occurred and began to help the injured, including a Hindu priest he had spoken with moments earlier. He said he pulled passengers out of a passing auto-rickshaw and loaded the injured into the vehicle to be taken to the hospital.
Aarya said that many of the injured he helped were seriously hurt, echoing what many witnesses reported which suggests the death toll could rise considerably.
The blasts are believed to have been caused by bombs packed with ball bearings, meant to incur maximum carnage. They exploded in and around the city centers of Connaught Place, Gaffer Market area of Karol Bagh and Greater Kailash.
Several bombs were reportedly defused, including one at India Gate, which is among the capital's most famous landmarks. Other markets throughout the city were closed and evacuated by police to protect the public.
A number of Indian media outlets received an e-mail sent just before the blasts warning that India was about to receive "the Message of Death," the Associated Press reported.
"In the name of Allah, Indian Mujahideen strikes back once more. ... Do whatever you can. Stop us if you can," said the message.
India has suffered a series of bomb attacks in the past year, most recently in Ahmedabad, Gujaret, where 22 small bombs killed 42 people on July 25. And tensions in the northernmost Indian state of Kashmir are the highest they have been in nearly a decade. Last month, a separatist leader was shot by police as about 100,000 Muslim Kashmiris tried to cross the hotly contested border between India and Pakistan.
The last major attack in Delhi was a coordinated bombing on October 29, 2005, that killed 59 people.