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Separatists fail to stop re-opening of Kashmir bus service

April 7, 2005

Map of Kashmir showing marked territory disputes: The grey line running through it is the Line of Control

A bus service successfully crossed the disputed region of Kashmir today despite coming under attack early on in its journey. It is believed Islamic separatists launched grenades at the Indian run bus minutes after it left a station in Srinagar, although the coach continued on to Muzaffarabad after it survived without damage. Whilst its passengers escaped unhurt, the attack is understood to have injured four other people, including a policeman. Indian authorities also located and defused at least one explosive device placed along the bus route.

The service, the first of its kind in almost 60 years, transported Pakistani and Indian Kashmiris across the conflict torn region, passing the cease fire line between India and Pakistan, dubbed the 'Line of Control'. The bus trips, which run to and from Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, are seen as a major step forward in the growing peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. The two nuclear powers both seek to control the Kashmir region, which has been a flashpoint for conflict for over 50 years. [1]

"A door has opened," said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today as the bus set off from Srinagar. "Pakistan and especially President General Pervez Musharraf have helped us open this door and without their support, the door would not have opened. This is the beginning of a new phase. Violence is not going to solve any problems."

Anti-Indian separatist Kashmiri militants have branded the return of bus service as a "betrayal of peace", according to reports.

Earlier this week, guerrillas attacked a Government safe house where the bus' passengers were said to be staying.

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