Forgotten Terrorism

Case Study: Mumbai Train Bombings, July 11, 2006

Introduction

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INDIA / 11 JULY 2006: On a hot afternoon in July 2006, seven bombs went off within 11 minutes on several trains in Mumbai, India, killing 209 people and injuring over 700. According to The Times of India, the train bombings came only hours after eight people were killed in a series of grenade attacks in the Indian state of Kashmir.

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The rush hour train blasts in Mumbai rocked one of India’s most densely populated cities, home to over 20 million people. Located in the western state of Maharashtra, Mumbai is the financial and entertainment capital of India. According to the U.K. publication The Guardian, nearly 6.5 million residents use the Mumbai train network on a daily basis

Four months after the blasts, in November, the Indian police charged a total of 28 members of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a terrorist group from Pakistan and the Students Islamic Movement of India with “murder, handling explosive substances, committing terrorist acts and causing damage to public property.”

“All I want is that my son opens his eyes again and walks again,” Dinesh Singh told the BBC one year after the train bombings. Singh’s 21-year-old son, Amit, was still in a coma in July 2007, one year after the attacks.

Two years after the July 2006 bombings, and a year after his mother was quoted by the BBC, Amit Singh still remained in the hospital together with one other victim of the attacks. On the second anniversary of the July 11 bombings, many news outlets inside and outside the region revisited the attacks, yet, ironically, in the days immediately after the bombings, the news from Mumbai quickly disappeared. Why did the actual event only stay a top global story for a couple of days, but remained important enough that the world’s media came back to it one and two years later?

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LEBANON / 13 JULY 2006: Two days after the train bombings, the Israeli government bombed the international airport in Beirut in response to the previous day's rocket attacks on Israel by Hezbollah and the capture of two Israeli soldiers. According to The New York Times, the attacks on the 13th resulted in  53 Lebanese killed and another 103  wounded.  Eight Israeli soldiers also died.

Immediately, the world’s attention switched from the Mumbai bombings to what became the Lebanon-Israel war. India fell off the front pages of newspapers and off the news on TV.

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Outside observers of the Middle East often see it as a region in constant conflict and, therefore, a region that needs continuous coverage. But South Asia, and even India alone, is also all too often a zone of violence, where dozens and even hundreds have been killed.

The July 11 bombings in Mumbai were not the first terrorist attacks in the city. On March 12, 1993, a series of 13 bomb blasts killed 257 and injured 713. Ten years later, on August 24, 2003, two blasts killed 48 and injured 150.

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Countries all around the world are battling terrorism; however, many stories outside the Middle East are poorly covered in the world’s media.

Why are some terrorist attacks “forgotten” or overlooked? How can we get a better understanding of what is happening all around the globe?