The bombing was the first attack that appeared to be targeting foreigners since the deadly Mumbai seige 15 months ago.
NEW DELHI - A powerful blast at a popular bakery frequented by tourists killed at least eight people and injured 32 in the western Indian city of Pune on Saturday, the first attack to apparently target foreigners since the 2008 siege of Mumbai that left 173 people dead.
The explosion took place a little after 7 p.m. at the German Bakery in Koregaon Park, an upscale neighborhood near the Osho Ashram. The ashram, a spiritual center with many Western followers, was one of the locations canvassed as a potential target by David Coleman Headley, who is now on trial in Chicago for plotting terrorist acts.
Eyewitnesses said there was an unidentified bag at the bakery, which is also near a Chabad House, an Orthodox Jewish outreach center similar to the one targeted in the Mumbai siege 15 months ago.
"We could hear the blast. Thank God we are fine," Rabbi Betzalel Kupchik of Chabad said, adding that a group at the center felt the explosion just after gathering for prayer to mark the end of the Sabbath. "We will continue our work here. We can't back down."
Federal Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said that at least one foreigner was among the dead. Pillai said that a team from the National Investigation Agency was en route to Pune, a city of more than 3.5 million people located 90 miles inland from Mumbai.
Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh put the death toll at nine, according to the Press Trust of India news service.
The bombing came a day after Pakistan agreed to resume high-level talks with India, the first such dialogue between the nuclear-armed powers since relations were frozen after the Mumbai massacre, which was planned and orchestrated from within Pakistan. The United States has urged the two nations to restart talks in hopes that improved relations will help stabilize the region, especially in Afghanistan, where India and Pakistan have been competing for influence.
In 2008, a wave of bombings struck markets in Indian cities, killing more than 100 people. Police blamed most of those attacks on homegrown Muslim militants, although some Hindu militants were also suspected of carrying out several attacks. India blames a Pakistan-based militant group for the Mumbai attacks.
Shahzad Ahmad, a suspect in bombings in New Delhi that year who was arrested last week, reportedly had told Delhi police that a cell of an Islamist group is operating in Pune, according to an intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The bombing is unlikely to affect the talks between India and Pakistan scheduled for Feb. 25, said Vikram Sood, a former head of the Research and Analysis Wing, the Indian intelligence agency.
"The talks are likely to go on," Sood said. "Terrorism is something India has to live with."