J & K Minister Survives Assassination Bid
6 July 2005
Srinagar: A minister in Jammu and Kashmir survived an assassination attempt by suspected Muslim rebels who opened fire on his car on Wednesday and wounded three of his bodyguards. Irrigation and Flood Control Minister Sayed Bashir escaped unhurt when his car was hit by automatic rifle fire in Srinagar, witnesses and police said. Security officials fired back at the gunmen, who fled. 'The minister escaped and we are cordoning the area to search for the militants,' a senior police officer told Reuters. Witnesses also said panicky pedestrians and shopkeepers ran for cover when the gunfire started. 'People were busy shopping when we heard a burst of gunfire. People ran here and there. I saw some policemen bleeding near their vehicle,' one witness, Farooq Ahmad, said. No militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in Srinagar's busy Badshah Chowk region. Officials say violence has eased in Kashmir since India and Pakistan started a peace process 19 months ago, but people are still being killed in gunbattles and bomb blasts in the Himalayan region that has caused two out of the three India-Pakistan wars. On Sunday evening, two senior ministers of the Jammu and Kashmir state government escaped a landmine blast while they were travelling by car. Six policemen in separate car following them were wounded in the blast. Police said five people, including two soldiers, were killed in separate shootouts across the region in past 24 hours.