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5 Hindu Pilgrims Die in Community Kitchen Explosions - 2003-07-21


In India's Jammu and Kashmir state, authorities say at least five people have been killed and about 25 injured in two explosions by suspected Islamic militants in a town visited by tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year.

Police say the blasts occurred late Monday as pilgrims prepared to visit a revered Hindu shrine near the town of Katra, about 50 kilometers northeast of Kashmir's winter capital Jammu.

Everyday hundreds of Hindu devotees trek up a hillside from Katra to the shrine of Vaishnodevi, located in a mountain cave. Police say the explosions took place near a community kitchen where pilgrims get free food.

Most of the victims were pilgrims. The injured have been taken to hospitals in Jammu.

Security is usually tight around popular shrines located in Indian Kashmir, because Islamic groups have been accused of targeting Hindu pilgrims in the past.

Nearly a dozen Islamic groups have been waging a separatist struggle in Kashmir since 1989. More than 35,000 people have been killed in violence linked to the insurgency.

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