Seven injured in blast on Kashmir bus route
5 April 2005
Srinagar: Seven people were injured in a landmine explosion in held Kashmir on Tuesday on a road to be used by a landmark bus service set to be launched this week to link divided Kashmir, police said. Five rebels and two soldiers died in separate clashes in the region, police said. The explosion in Hanjiveera village on the bus route was caused by a landmine concealed under the soil,' a police spokesman said, adding the area was swiftly sealed off. The explosion on the heavily-patrolled highway comes before the Thursday start of the bus service between occupied Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir. Earlier, troops found and defused two powerful landmines, weighing 70 and 60 kilogrammes, in the neighbouring village of Palhalan, 25km north of Srinagar, on the same route. Militant groups fighting a 15-year long insurgency in held Kashmir that has left thousands dead earlier this week labelled the bus a 'coffin' and urged Kashmiris to shun the service. The threat to target passengers was repeated on Tuesday with four militant groups warning people to take an alternative route to meet their relatives in Pakistan. The statement said that those who ignored the warning and took the bus would face consequences. It also threatened the drivers of the buses from Srinagar up to Kaman Post on the Line of Control. 'We have collected the bio-data of the two drivers who want to drive this bus to Muzaffarabad. They are warned not to play with their lives,' the statement said. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will flag off the bus from Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket Stadium on Thursday while Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Sikandar Hayat will simultaneously inaugurate the service in Muzaffarabad. The bus service has been hailed as a way of reuniting families divided after the partition of the state in 1947. Meanwhile, the Indian army shot dead five suspected militants during two clashes in Budgam in the centre of the state and in the southern Pulwama district. In another incident, two Indian soldiers were killed by militants trying to cross the cease fire line in southern Kashmir, an army spokesman said. He said the two militants shot dead in Budgam were from the Lashkar-i-Taiba. Over the past week at least 51 people have died in held Kashmir, including 29 militants, 16 civilians and six security force personnel, according to police figures.