Security tightened after deadly bomb blasts

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NEW DELHI -- Security has been further tightened at Indian cinemas after a bomb blast Sunday killed seven, including an 11-year-old boy, and injured more than 30 at a movie theater in Ludhiana, about 190 miles north of New Delhi.

The Shringar cinema in the busy area of Ludhiana in Punjab state was rocked by two evening bomb blasts that exploded within seconds of each other.

About a thousand patrons were watching a regional film in the Bhojpuri language, "Janam Janam Ke Saath" (Together Through Lifetimes). Most of the audience was considered to be migrants from other states working in Ludhiana, where Punjabi is the dominant language. With Sunday also being the Muslim festival of Eid, the cinema was packed to capacity.

Authorities have not identified who is responsible for the blasts.

In May 2005, two cinemas in Delhi were hit by bomb blasts that killed one person and injured more than 40. Authorities eventually apprehended two suspects who were considered members of Babbar Khalsa International, a dormant militant group that has been fighting for a separate homeland, Khalistan, in the state of Punjab.

The Ludhiana incident comes three days after a blast at a holy Muslim shrine in the western city of Ajmer killed three people, prompting authorities to assess whether the latest bombing was the handiwork of Islamist terror groups or the dormant militant organization.

With the holiday season in full swing, authorities already had stepped up security in public areas.

"We have always enforced the highest possible security measures at our cinemas. With this incident, police authorities have further increased security at cinemas nationwide," said Tushar Dhingra, COO of Mumbai-based Adlabs Cinemas, India's largest cinema chain.

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