Grenade attacks kill seven tourists in Kashmir

Seven tourists were killed and 35 people injured on Tuesday in a series of grenade attacks targeting holiday areas in the main city of revolt-hit Indian Kashmir, police said.

In the bloodiest of the attacks blamed on Islamic separatist rebels, six tourists, including five women, were killed and 15 people wounded when a grenade blasted a minibus in Srinagar’s main tourist district.

A spokesperson for the police control room said the injured included bystanders near the minibus. All of the tourists were from India’s West Bengal state. The dead included a mother, her son and her daughter-in-law.

The grenade was hurled by suspected rebels near the busy Dalgate area of the mountain-ringed Dal Lake in Srinagar, he said.

“The grenade landed inside the minibus and exploded with a bang,” said local resident Imtiaz Hussain, adding that it smashed the vehicle’s windows and sent people running for cover in all directions.

A second grenade attack in Srinagar’s busy Regal Chowk injured four people who were travelling in a car registered outside Kashmir, police said.

In two more attacks on private passenger jeeps near Lal Chowk, the main commercial centre, one person was killed and six people were injured.

The dead man was a tourist from the eastern state of Bihar and most of the injured were also not Kashmiris. The attacks sparked fires in the vehicles.

A fifth explosion took place near Srinagar’s tourist reception centre and injured ten people, all of them Kashmiris, police said.

A suspect was held after the fifth blast and was being questioned, a police officer said.

Kashmir’s Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, visiting the injured in hospital, blamed Islamic militants.

“These people are killers of innocent people. They are enemies of people and we will have to fight them out,” he said.

No militant group claimed responsibility and the rebels have condemned such attacks in the past.

“They [militants] have started lying. They do such acts and at the end of the day they say they haven’t done it,” said Azad.

Indian Kashmir officials had forecast more than a million tourists would visit the state this year to take advantage of a two-year peace process in place with Pakistan, which also lays claim to the region.

But militants opposed to the peace talks have stepped up attacks.

On May 31 a Bengali tourist was killed and thirty others from his state were wounded in grenade attacks on two tourist buses in the Dalgate area.

On May 25 a bomb ripped through another tourist bus, killing four Indian tourists and injuring six others.

Kashmir is in the grip of a 17-year-old insurgency against Indian rule that has left more than 44 000 dead, by official count. Separatists put the toll twice as high.—AFP



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