A low-intensity bomb rigged to a cycle exploded near an auditorium-cum-temple complex in Madurai in the wee hours of Tuesday, causing a security scare ahead of next week's Bharatiya Janata Party state-level conference, which is scheduled to be attended by senior leaders including L K Advani.
The explosion of the bomb placed in a box fitted to the cycle damaged the vehicle totally, police said, adding that there were no casualties in the incident.
According to the police, the motive was to create a scare ahead of Advani's visit to the city for the two-day BJP conference slated to begin on May 10. The blast was also aimed to create panic during the ongoing annual Chitra festival of the Meenakshi Amman Temple here.
Besides Advani, party chief Nitin Gadkari and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi are among those slated to participate in the BJP conference.
"It is a sophisticated device. There was a timer and eight batteries connected to the explosive," said the police.
Officials of the auditorium and two nearby hospitals claimed they had informed police about a person keeping a cycle in the area and taking it in the morning for the past three days, indicating a dry-run by the perpetrator.
But the police did not take the information seriously, they claimed.
In October last year, a pipe bomb was unearthed at a nearby village on the Jan Chetna Yatra route of Advani.
Though police have arrested three people from the city, two main suspects and activists of banned Al-Umma Fakruddin are at large.
The latest incident caused concern as bombs had been recovered by the police from three buses in the region in the recent past.