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Mumbai bombs: 'Pencil timers found'

Indian forensic experts collect samples from a damaged coach at Kandivli in Mumbai.




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MUMBAI, India (CNN) -- Timers hidden in pencils have been discovered in at least three of the seven sites where bombs exploded on commuter trains in India's financial capital, killing 185 people, according to CNN's sister station, CNN-IBN.

The timers are believed to have detonated bombs made of RDX, one of the most powerful kinds of military explosives, the network quoted police as saying Wednesday.

However, CNN could not independently confirm the discovery of the timers or the material used in the explosives.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, which came in a span of 11 minutes during Tuesday evening's rush hour in Mumbai, when trains were jam-packed with commuters making their way home.

The Western Railway system carries more than 4.5 million passengers a day in the city formerly named Bombay.

Maharashtra state's police chief said more than 700 people were hurt, and hospitals continued appeals for blood donors.

Relatives and friends searched desperately for missing loved ones, posting messages at train stations and in the media as officials worked to identify the dead and injured.

Local train service resumed in most areas of Mumbai on Wednesday but long-distance trains were not running.

Indian shares recovered on the Bombay Stock Exchange after a shaky start on Wednesday, but investors remained cautious and dealing rooms were thinly staffed as nervous employees stayed at home. (Full story)

Meanwhile, as the investigations widened, police said the pencil timers were found at blast sites in Matunga station, Mahim and Borivili -- where authorities on Tuesday defused another bomb found after an initial explosion ripped apart a rail car.

Forensic tests are also being performed on a leather bag found at one of the stations, as well as on other items collected there.

Authorities said the bombs all appeared to have been planted on trains that left the Churchgate station in Mumbai.

The blasts hit trains at Khar, Mahim, Matunga, Jogeshwari, Borivili and Bhayander stations, in that order. The seventh explosion hit a train between the Khar and Santacruz stations, a police official told CNN-IBN.

Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the carnage, U.S. officials said suspicion fell on two Islamic terrorist groups whose focus has been on the disputed territory of Kashmir -- Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the beheading of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.

Both groups have been implicated in attacks that involved coordinated bombings during peak times in India, the officials said.

Asked whether Lashkar, which in a statement earlier Wednesday denied any role in the bombings, was involved, state police chief P.S. Pasricha was reported by The Associated Press as saying: "It is difficult to say definitely at this stage, but Lashkar-e-Tayyiba can be involved going by the style of attack."

Pasricha said officials had known for some time that Mumbai was a target.

"We had an idea since some months that Bombay was a target," Pasricha told reporters. "Since it is the financial capital, there are many vulnerable areas in the city. Targets are well known."

Despite a statement Tuesday from Pakistan condemning the blasts, India's government denounced other comments from Pakistani officials linking the dispute over Kashmir to the attacks.

"We find it appalling that (Pakistan) Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri should seek to link this act of terror to the lack of resolution of the dispute between India and Pakistan," said Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna.

"His remarks appear to suggest that Pakistan will cooperate with India against the scourge of terrorist violence only if the so-called disputes are resolved," Sarna added.

U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife sent a message of sympathy to Mumbai.

"On behalf of the American people, Laura and I send our deepest condolences to the friends and families of the victims of today's brutal attacks on commuter rail passengers in Mumbai.

"The United States stands with the people and the government of India and condemns in the strongest terms these atrocities, which were committed against innocent people as they went about their daily lives."

Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil also said the government had some advance knowledge that such an attack might take place, but "what we didn't have was the place and the time."

On March 7, 14 people were killed in attacks on a temple and a rail station in Varanasi. On March 12, 1993, more than 250 people were killed in Mumbai when 13 bombs exploded in several locations in the city.

CNN Correspondents Seth Doane and Ram Ramgopal contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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