August 2000 News

Car bomb kills 13 in Srinagar

10 August 2000
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: At least 13 people, including a photo- journalist, two Armymen and a civilian, were killed and over 30 injured in a powerful bomb blast in Srinagar today. The condition of many of the injured, mostly security personnel, is stated to be critical. People had been fearing the worst after the withdrawal of the ceasefire by the Hizbul Mujahideen on August 8; and the explosion of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted in a car near the State Bank of India (SBI) branch on the Residency Road here, confirmed their fears. First, a grenade was thrown from an unknown direction at around 12.15 p.m., and people on the posh Residency Road ran helter- skelter. As people deserted the streets, police and journalists, mostly camerapersons, rushed to the spot. When they were in the process of finding out what had happened, the IED planted in the car exploded at 12.30 p.m. with a big bang, killing at least seven people, all of them police personnel, on the spot. Among those killed was The Hindustan Times photographer, Mr. Pradeep Kumar Bhatia. A pall of gloom descended on the media fraternity as the news of his death spread. Two police personnel succumbed to injuries taking the toll to nine. Two Army personnel were also killed, and a Major of the Kumaon Regiment was injured, official sources said. The injured include Mr. Pankaj Dard (SP, East), Mr. Altaf Ahmed (SHO) and journalists Mr. Irfan Ahmed (Zee TV), Mr. H.U. Naqash (The Asian Age), Mr. Amin War (The Tribune) and Mr. I. Tariq (Srinagar News) Mr. Fayaz Kabli (Reuters) and Mr. Aijaz Hussain (Excelsior). The SDPO of Kothibagh, Mr. Kuldeep Sharma, died of injuries in the hospital, while the other two police personnel were out of danger. The wall of the SBI branch was ripped apart, vehicles were mangled and bodies torn into pieces. A few hundred yards away from The Hindu office, a number of journalists escaped unhurt as they were still on their way after coming to know of the first blast. Blood, tattered clothes and chappals were splattered all around the SBI lane. ''I removed bodies of seven policemen,'' said Mr. Manohar Singh, a CRPF head constable. Soon after the blasts, shops were closed and traffic came to a grinding halt. Even as security forces were deployed in strength, half-a-kilometre away, at Amira Kadal, militants hurled two grenades injuring five people. In Baramulla, a BSF jawan and two civilians were killed and seven others injured when militants lobbed a grenade at a BSF patrol. It was followed by firing in which three people were killed. Police sources said that Army killed a top commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, identified as Abdur Rashid Hajam, in Kandi Kupwara in an encounter.


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