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Kashmir Bombing Kills 4, Injures Dozens

  • Anjana Pasricha

A car bomb explosion in Indian Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar, has killed at least four people and injured about 60 others. The attack comes amid a surge in violence in the insurgency-wracked region.

The massive blast rocked a busy traffic intersection in the heart of Srinagar Wednesday morning as the city's streets were bustling with office workers and shoppers.

Chaos ensued as people fled the scene, and ambulances rushed to help the dozens of injured.

A lawmaker and former minister in the state government, Usman Majid, was slightly hurt in the attack. Police said the bomb might have been aimed at him.

Wednesday's attack was the third mounted by suspected guerrillas this week. On Monday, militants attacked police in the central business district, triggering a night-long gun battle in which two security officers and two civilians were killed.

On Tuesday, police say, militants lobbed a grenade and opened a fire at a political rally in Baramulla district, killing four people and wounding at least 60 others. Another former minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir, was injured in that attack.

The spurt in violence has coincided with a new chief minister taking charge of the state government earlier this month.

A current minister in the Kashmir government, Pir Mohammad Sayeed, says Islamic militants are stepping up attacks due to what he calls "frustration."

"People of the state want peace and development, and they have totally rejected militancy, and they want peace, and it is because of that [that] militants are trying to disturb this process," said Mr. Sayeed.

Nearly a dozen Muslim militant groups have been fighting to free Kashmir from India since 1989. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the violence.

Indian police accuse one of these groups, the Laskhar-e-Taiba, of carrying out a series of deadly bomb blasts in New Delhi at the end of October.

India believes the militants infiltrate into Kashmir from the Pakistani side of the divided territory - an assertion Islamabad denies. The rising violence has led to complaints by New Delhi that Pakistan is not doing enough to meet pledges of stopping Islamic guerrilla groups operating from its soil.