October 2004 News

Militants Bomb Kashmir Mourners, Killing One

24 October 2004

Srinagar: Militants bombed mourners arriving at a Kashmir graveyard on Sunday for the funeral of a murdered opposition party leader, killing one and wounding six, police and witnesses said. They then raked police escorting politicians at the funeral with automatic gunfire, forcing dozens of mourners to run for their lives as bullets flew around the graveyard. TV footage showed police ducking behind cars, returning fire and carrying away one of the injured in a white sheet. 'I heard two civilians screaming while lying in pools of blood after the explosion,' witness Tariq Ahmad told Reuters from Sarnal in Anantnag district, 50 km (30 miles) south of Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's summer capital. Police said the bomb had been remote-controlled. They said the militants could have made their getaway by fleeing to heavily-forested hills near the graveyard. The bomb went off just as Omar Abdullah, leader of the National Conference party and former junior Foreign Minister, and his father, Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Indian Kashmir, were arriving at the graveyard. They were only a few feet from the blast but were unhurt. No militant group claimed responsibility for the second attack on senior National Conference leaders in the past four days. On Thursday, masked gunmen killed Safdar Baig as he was coming out of a mosque after prayers. Muslim separatist rebels have been waging a bloody insurgency against New Delhi's authority since 1989. Jammu and Kashmir is mostly Hindu India's only Muslim-majority state. PRO- INDIAN RULE 'The (federal) government is playing with our lives. New Delhi must open its eyes to the situation here,' Omar Abdullah told reporters, accusing authorities of not doing enough to protect him and his father, who are high on the hitlist of Kashmiri Muslim insurgents for being strongly pro-India. Police said on Sunday that, in other violent incidents since Saturday evening, militants beheaded a 35-year-old woman and gunmen shot dead a former insurgent leader. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the revolt in the state, the cause of two of the three wars between India and Pakistan, which controls a third of the Himalayan region and is accused by India of arming and training separatists, a charge Islamabad denies. The region is the main sticking point in peace talks between the nuclear-armed neighbours, which are pursuing a peace process they started last year.


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