June 2005 News

Fourteen Killed, 100 Injured In Kashmir Explosion

13 June 2005

Pulwama: Fourteen people were killed and at least 100 injured on Monday when a powerful car bomb exploded near a school in a busy town in Indian Kashmir, security officials said. The dead included two students and three policemen, they said. Pieces of human flesh were scattered near the site of the explosion in Pulwama town south of Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital. At least a dozen children were among the injured. 'There was hustle and bustle in the town when suddenly all hell broke loose. There was a thick cloud of smoke in the air and bodies on the ground,' Abdul Rashid, a witness, told Reuters. In a nearby police station wailing people were trying to identify the dead. No militant group has claimed responsibility for the explosion, which damaged the school as well as dozens of shops, houses and vehicles. Sandals, shoes and broken vehicle parts were strewn across the road, which was stained with pools of blood. Some distance away, textbooks and writing pads lay scattered in a damaged school classroom. It was the worst incident of separatist violence in Kashmir since moderate separatist politicians began a historic trip to Pakistan on June 4 for talks on the disputed Himalayan region, claimed by both India and Pakistan. 'After a loud explosion I fell down and could only hear people screaming for help. After a while I saw both my legs were bleeding,' one of the victims, Mohammad Shafi, told Reuters. 'I have never witnessed such a devastating blast. We are still waiting for details,' police official Abdul Rashid said. Bomb blasts and gun battles occur almost daily between rebels and Indian troops, despite an 18-month peace process between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over the region. 'I expressed my grief and sorrow over the attack. It's a bloody act and we condemn such acts,' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Kashmiri Muslims' spiritual leader, told Reuters in Pakistan where he is heading a visiting delegation from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. READY FOR MORE VIOLENCE Indian intelligence officials say security forces are preparing for more violence in Kashmir. 'Militants are not happy with the ongoing peace process. They are also desperate after losing their top brass. So they will try to do such acts in future also,' said a senior intelligence official, who declined to be identified. Police fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse hundreds of people protesting against the blast, blaming it on the government. Three protesters were wounded, witnesses said. 'The people are grief-stricken and angry but it is confirmed that the blast was carried out by militants,' said Sheikh Owais, a senior police official. Indian Kashmir's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and separatist politicians, including hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani condemned the attack. Geelani called for a one-day strike on Tuesday in protest over the killings. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said earlier he was very hopeful about resolving the dispute with India over Kashmir, although he gave no time frame. More than 45,000 people have been killed in Kashmir since the revolt against Indian rule began in 1989.


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