New Delhi: At least five bombs exploded in quick succession in crowded markets and streets in New Delhi on Saturday, killing at least 20 people and injuring scores more, police said.

The Indian Mujahideen terrorist group, which says it has carried out several major attacks in recent months, sent an email to local television stations saying it was responsible for the blasts.

Police and witnesses said two went off in dustbins in and around Connaught Place, a shopping and dining area popular with tourists and locals in the centre of the city. Others exploded in busy markets around the city, within minutes of each other.

Hundreds of people have been killed in a wave of bombings in India in recent years, with targets ranging from mosques and Hindu temples to trains.

Police say the Indian Mujahideen is an offshoot of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India, but say local Muslims appear to have been given training and backing from militant groups in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh.

One bomb exploded in a newly constructed park in the centre of the Connaught Place roundabout, built above one of the main stations of the Delhi Metro.

Bomb in a dustbin

Another went off in a dustbin near a metro station entrance on a main arterial road leading into the area, housing the offices of several foreign banks and multinational companies.

“Around 6:30 pm we heard a very loud noise, then we saw people running all over the place," said Chanchal Kumar, a witness whose shirt was soaked in blood of several victims he had helped shift into ambulances.

“There were about 100-200 people around this place," he said, adding the blast site was crowded.

An injured being taken for treatment at RML hospital after serial blasts in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

“It was a huge blast," said another witness, Sanjeev Gole. “I was around the corner from the road. I came running down and I saw at least four to five people lying on the road."

Broadcasts showed the aftermath of the explosion in the Ghaffar Market area of Karol Bagh, which is a busy area full of electronics shops and is packed at weekends.

Badly damaged cars with windows shattered and mangled motorbikes could be seen along with personal belongings, some of them bloodstained, and abandoned shoes.

Police controlled crowds of onlookers, some people angry that they had failed to prevent the explosions.

Wounded people were shown being carried away by rescuers at one site, one leaving a trail of blood on the ground.

Hundreds of people milled around the site of the explosions as police tried to cordon off the area.

In July, at least 45 people were killed after a series of bombs ripped through Ahmedabad. The attack came a day after bombs killed one woman in the IT hub of Bangalore.

Blasts mindless act of violence: Prez

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil said the serial blasts in the Capital were a “mindless act of violence" and appealed to the people to maintain peace.

Patil condoled the loss of lives in the explosions and described the incident as a “mindless act of violence", a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said.

The President has been grieved by the tragic turn of events, it said.

Patil also wished the speedy recovery to those injured in the blasts. (PTI)

Security beefed up

New Delhi: Security was tightened across the Capital which was rocked by a series of explosions, with police personnel fanning out in large numbers to railway and Metro stations, hospitals, bus terminals and airport.

Gun-toting security personnel were deployed at sensitive points after explosions in a span of 45 minutes ripped through the city.

Barricades were put up at several places to regulate traffic. There was chaos on the roads as people who were outside rushed back home following the blasts.

Security was stepped up at railway and Metro stations, inter-state bus terminals, airport, cinema halls, shopping malls and other sensitive points.

Extra personnel have been deployed at religious places, besides keeping an extra vigil on the borders.

Police have asked cyber cafe owners and dealers to be on alert and keep a tab on their customers.(PTI)