Blast, Gunbattle In Indian Kashmir Kill 4
14 November 2005
Srinagar: At least four people were killed and nearly a dozen wounded on Monday when suspected Muslim militants threw a grenade at a police post in a crowded market in Indian Kashmir's main city and exchanged fire with policemen. Witnesses said shopkeepers and pedestrians ran for cover after the blast and firing in the crowded Lal Chowk market in the heart Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital. 'Militants lobbed a grenade at a security picket in Lal Chowk and then fired with automatic weapons, triggering a fierce gunbattle,' said a police spokesman. Two Central Reserve Police Force troopers and two civilians were killed. 'Security forces have cordoned off the area. Intermittent firing is continuing. We are trying to locate the terrorists,' the spokesman said. Two militant groups, Al-Mansurian and Islamic Front, claimed responsibility for the attack. 'I dragged my daughter in a shop after I heard a loud explosion and the gunfire. Both of us were crying,' said Farida Jabeen, a witness. She said dozens of people also took shelter in shops. Violence continues in disputed Kashmir despite a slow-moving peace process by India and Pakistan who have fought two of their three wars over the scenic region. Five people, including two civilians and two militants, were killed on Sunday in a clash in the Pattan area on the outskirts of Srinagar. More than 45,000 people have died in the Himalayan region since a Muslim rebellion, which India says is backed by Pakistan, broke out in 1989. Islamabad denies the charge. On Monday, the two nuclear-armed rivals opened a fourth point for earthquake relief on the heavily militarised Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the two countries. India and Pakistan agreed to open five crossing points, as a humanitarian response to the Oct. 8 earthquake that killed over 75,000 people, mostly in Pakistani Kashmir.