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Deadly Grenade Attack in Indian Kashmir


In Indian Kashmir, an attack by suspected Islamic rebels has killed at least one person and injured about 20 others. There has been a spike in violence in the region in the past month, mostly targeting visitors.

Police say suspected Muslim militants hurled three grenades during the morning rush hour at the main bus station in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian Kashmir.

The blasts caused panic among commuters, who included local residents and Hindus gathering in Jammu to take part in an annual pilgrimage to Amarnath, a shrine high in the Himalayan mountains.

At least five of the injured persons are in critical condition.

A senior superintendent of police in Jammu, Mukesh Singh, says officers are uncertain if pilgrims were among those injured or killed. Mr. Singh says police have detained several people, and are searching the nearby area for the attackers.

Islamist militant groups fighting to end Indian rule in Kashmir attacked the pilgrimage several times in the past, after they launched a violent separatist insurgency in the Himalayan region in 1989. But the pilgrimage has been peaceful in recent years, since talks between India and Pakistan brought down the level of violence in the scenic region, which is claimed by both countries. However, security concerns are rising because a series of recent attacks targeted tourists, who have thronged back into Kashmir after staying away for more than a decade.

Officials say more than six people were killed and 50 injured last month, when suspected militants hurled bombs and grenades at buses carrying tourists in the summer capital of Kashmir, Srinagar, at the height of the tourist season.

Bharat Karnad, a security expert, at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, says Islamic militant groups, frustrated by the peace process between India and Pakistan, are hitting out at "softer targets," such as tourists.

"These are acts of desperation, because, I think, the general conciliatory mood in both India and Pakistan is for some form of resolution, peaceful resolution, and the "jihadis" [militants], by these means, are trying to throw a spanner into the works [stall progress on the peace process]," said Karnad.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and their competing claims for control of the whole region has led to wars in the past. The slow-moving peace process between the South Asian rivals has not yet resulted in any breakthrough on Kashmir, but both countries have vowed to negotiate a solution to the dispute.

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