Indian police probe deadly blasts near nuclear plant

CHENNAI (REUTERS) - Indian police are investigating whether anti-nuclear activists were behind bomb blasts that killed six people near a nuclear power plant which started production in October despite protests by villagers.

At least two crude bombs exploded on Tuesday in a house just lkm from the Russian-built Kudankulam plant on India's southernmost tip in the district of Tirunelveli.

Police have filed a formal investigation that names three people in connection with the explosions, Mr Sumit Sharan, a senior police official in Tirunelveli, told Reuters. All of them were wounded in the blasts.

"We are trying to find out if they are members of the anti-nuclear group," police official Sharan said on Wednesday.

The much-delayed Kudankulam plant started producing electricity five weeks ago, with an initial output of 160 MW.

The plant, which should produce 2 gigawatts, has been dogged for a quarter of a century by opponents, including an anti-nuclear movement which sees it as a threat to the safety of villagers.

Unable to rely on a coal sector crippled by supply shortages and mired in scandal, India is pushing ahead with the construction of nuclear reactors despite global unease over safety.

The main anti-nuclear group in Tirunelveli denied any role in the explosions.

"We made it clear immediately that we have nothing to do with the bomb blasts," said Mr SP Udayakumar, founder of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy.

Mr Udayakumar said he believed gangs involved in illegal mining were behind the blasts.