DUSHANBE, February 19, Asia-Plus – At least 64 people burned to death after a blast aboard a train from India to Pakistan that officials said was intended to damage the peace process between the two neighbours.

Explosives were found in two suitcases which directly pointed to sabotage, Indian Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav told reporters following the overnight blast on the "Samjhauta (Friendship) Express".

Explosions ripped through two passenger carriages around midnight near Panipat, 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of New Delhi. The twice-weekly service runs from the Indian capital to Lahore in Pakistan.

"The intention is clear -- it is an effort to destabilise peace between India, Pakistan. Innocent people have been killed," said the railways minister.

"At least 64 people are dead," he said. Two dozen more were reported injured.

New Delhi Television, citing intelligence sources, said the blast may be linked to an attack on commuter trains in Mumbai last July that left 185 dead and led India to suspend peace talks for several months.

Forensic experts told Star News television that low intensity explosives had been used along with bottles of kerosene to spread fire. A dozen more bottles which had failed to explode had been found.

In a statement, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed "anguish and grief" at the loss of lives.

"The culprits will be caught," he vowed.

Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil said: "Whoever has done it is against peace, against the friendly ties that we are trying to build with other countries."

Panipat police superintendent Mohinder Singh Sheoran told AFP by telephone that 62 bodies had been removed from the wreckage. Police said several Pakistanis were among the dead and wounded.