– A series of low-intensity bombs exploded on Sunday in the northeastern Indian city of Patna, targeting a rally for the opposition leader Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to unseat the long-dominant Congress party in national elections next spring.

Small blasts were reported at a Patna railway station and at the Gandhi Maidan, where tens of thousands of people were gathering to hear Modi speak. Five people were killed and 71 hospitalized, including four who were in critical condition, according to Amarkant Jha, the superintendent of Patna Medical College and Hospital.

By Sunday evening, police said, four suspects had been detained, and the site of the rally had been cordoned off to search for unexploded devices.

Party officials had touted the rally as the largest ever to be held in the state of Bihar, an electoral battleground, and they decided to proceed despite the blasts. Members of the crowd roared in response as Modi invoked the Hindu epics, asking them to chant traditional battle cries.

He appeared calm and jovial, making no mention of the explosions until the end of his speech, when he asked his supporters to “go in peace; no one should be hurt.”

The president of Bharatiya Janata Party, Rajnath Singh, urged the crowd to renounce the Congress party.

“For more than 55 years the Congress has ruled India,” he said. “They had enough time to make India a great country. They only increased poverty and betrayed the trust of the people.”

new york times