NEW DELHI, India, May 10, Reuter: A powerful bomb exploded at a branch of the American Citibank in Central New Delhi on Tuesday killing one person and wounding 13.

A US. Embassy spokesman said staff at the mission had been apprised of a “Red Alert” issued by police against possible attacks in the Indian capital.

She denied suggestions that U.S. diplomatic staff had been warned of possible Sikh reprisals for the deportation to India from the United States two weeks ago of the wanted Sikh Rupinder Singh Aankhi for overstaying his visa.

The bomb went off just after noon, demolishing the entire third floor office of the New York based bank in New Delhi’s busy Connaught place shopping area.

“We have no idea who did it and are making no inferences about whether it was a terrorist attack from internal or external groups”, Delhi Lieutenant Governor H.L. Kapoor told reporters.

Citibank Executive Jerry Rao said the bank had not been threatened before. “We are totally perplexed why we should be the target”, he said from the bank’s Indian headquarters in Bombay.

Delhi police Chief Vijay Karan said his men had been checking banks for possible bomb attacks and that the Citibank branch had been checked five times on Monday. He did not know if police had visited it on Tuesday.

“We already have a Red Alert. We will now have redder alert,” Kapoor told reporters after visiting the smoldering office.

The blast came exactly three years after 86 people were killed in a series of explosions from booby trap bombs.

Bank teller Harish Chandra Grover said the bomb went off in the bank’s reception area where customers were sitting.

“There was a tremendous explosion. The switchboard caught fire. I saw a man fall down in front of me. The room filled with smoke and we rushed out,” Grover said.

Nearly 1000 people in offices in the 13storey building were quickly evacuated and police cordoned off Connaught Place, the busiest area of this city of eight million people.

Offices in the brand new, twin tower building, include Air India, and American Express.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 13, 1988