10 killed in shootout in Kashmir

Monday, June 12, 2006

At least nine people were killed in a series of attacks in Kashmir on Monday, including one close to a camp housing Hindu pilgrims, while a boy died in police firing. Suspected Islamist militants threw three grenades at a crowded bus station in Jammu city, police said, killing one person and wounding 22. The station is close to a camp where hundreds of pilgrims are staying before embarking on a long journey to Amarnath, a Hindu shrine deep in the Himalayas.

"I was about to board a bus when something exploded between some buses," said Manoj Kumar, who sustained glass splinter injuries and was admitted to a local hospital. Islamist militants fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region have attacked the annual pilgrimage several times in the past but the last three years have been peaceful. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

In a violent day in the troubled Himalayan region, a teenage boy was killed in Kupwara district when police fired to disperse Muslim demonstrators protesting against what they believed had been the desecration of a Koran and a mosque, witnesses and police said. Twenty others, including 10 policemen, were injured in the clash 85 km northwest of Srinagar. On Saturday, villagers told journalists that soldiers had entered a mosque wearing shoes and then desecrated a copy of the Islamic holy book.

A policeman was killed and another wounded as suspected militants fired on a police patrol in Sopore town, north of Srinagar, police said. And unidentified gunmen shot dead seven labourers -- said to be from the Indian state of Bihar -- in Anantnag district in south Kashmir. No group claimed responsibility and the army said it was investigating.

According to Wikipedia, the conflict between Islamist separatists and the military in Jammu and Kashmir has claimed thousands since the early 1990s. The region has long been a source of conflict between India and Pakistan, with both nations claiming sovereignty over it.