NEW DELHI Over the last several years, terrorist attacks in India have become all too common.
In eastern Varanasi, a deadly explosion interrupted Hindu devotees as they lit oil lamps to Hanuman, the monkey god. In southern Hyderabad, a homemade bomb planted inside a mosque killed worshippers. In Mumbai, India's largest city, nearly 200 commuters on packed city trains died in a series of blasts.
And, in the most recent attack, 17 back-to-back explosions struck shoppers and strollers Saturday evening in Ahmedabad, in western India, and then two blasts hit the hospitals where the wounded and their relatives rushed for help, killing 49 people and wounding more than 200.
The targets seem to have nothing in common except that they are ordinary places that are easy to strike. In a country long familiar with sharply focused violence whether sectarian or fueled by insurgencies in Kashmir in the 1990s the impersonal nature of the latest violence is new and unsettling.
"The familiar becomes unfamiliar," said Shiv Vishvanathan, a professor of anthropology in Ahmedabad. "The apple seller you meet might be carrying a bomb. It creates suspicion. It's a perfect way to destabilize society."
Reminders of the danger are everywhere. There are metal detectors at the gates of movie theaters and commuter trains, and even at the threshold of prominent temples and mosques. Yet they have had no bearing on easier, more densely crowded targets.
A report last year by the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington concluded that from January 2004 to March 2007, the death toll from terrorist attacks in India was 3,674, second only to that in Iraq during the same period.
H.P. Singh, the city's joint police commissioner, said Sunday that some of the explosives had been strapped to bicycles in crowded streets and markets. Later in the evening, a pair of car bombs went off in front of two city hospitals. At one of them, Civil Hospital, the dead included husband-and-wife doctors and two sanitation workers.
The police said two additional bombs had been found and defused, in Ahmedabad and nearby Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat state. On Sunday afternoon, the police found two abandoned cars in Surat, an industrial city in Gujarat, one stuffed with bomb-making chemicals and detonators, the other with live bombs. The police said they were still tracing the cars' ownership.
An obscure group called the Indian Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for the bombings.