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Asia-pacific

Deadly blast rocks Indian Kashmir

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-12

At least four people have died and 15 others were injured by an explosion in the city of Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, police have reported. Ramadan generally triggers a rise in separatist violence, but deadly attacks have been in decline.

AFP - At least four people were killed late Saturday in a powerful car bomb blast set off by Islamic militants near the main jail in Indian Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar, police said.
   
"So far we have three policemen and a woman dead and 15 others injured," police spokesman Prabhakar Tripathi told AFP.
   
He described the explosion as "powerful" and said it was an attack by Islamic militants fighting Indian rule.
   
"The militants had planted an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) inside an abandoned car and triggered the blast by using a remote control device," Tripathi said.
   
The rebels targeted a police bus that was returning to another town after dropping some of the convicts at the jail.
   
It was the first major blast in the region this year after a lull in violence by the Muslim-majority region's insurgency, which according to official figures has left more than 47,000 people dead since it began twenty years ago.
   
The explosion, which took place 150 meters (164 yards) from Srinagar's central jail, shattered nearby windows and could be heard in a five-kilometre (three-mile) radius.  
   
"It was a deafening blast. The impact has smashed all the window panes of our home and damaged several other houses," one witness, Sabeya Hameed, said by telephone.
   
She said she saw some of the casualties being loaded into ambulances to be taken to hospital but did not know whether they were civilians or security personnel.
   
The blast even set fire to a huge tree and caused a big crater at the scene.
   
Ramadan, which started August 23, has been marked by increased violence in Kashmir in the past as some militants believe those who die fighting during the holy month gain more heavenly rewards.
   
However, late last month, officials said unrest in heavily militarised Kashmir had fallen to its lowest level since the rebellion started in 1989.
   
According to official police records, killings have dropped to one a day, from 10 daily in 2001 and a peak of 13 in 1996 when the uprising was at its height with daily bomb attacks and gunbattles.
   
The level of violence declined sharply after India and Pakistan, whose territorial dispute over Kashmir has triggered two wars, embarked on a peace process in 2004.
   
The peace process was suspended in the wake of the militant attacks last November on India's financial capital Mumbai in which 166 people died.
   
Indian officials also attribute the decline in unrest to fencing off the border between the two countries and what they say are more effective counter-insurgency tactics.

Date created : 2009-09-12

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