A remote-controlled roadside bomb blew up an army patrol car in a pre-dawn attack Sunday in disputed Kashmir, killing an army major and 10 other men, police said.
The powerful blast in Wachi village hurled the car skyward and left a 10-foot wide crater in the road, police officer Imtiyaz Ahmed told The Associated Press by telephone from the site of the blast.
“The car is completely damaged, totally twisted. It was hurled several meters (yards) from the crater,” Ahmed said. “The bodies of the victims are in pieces. It is a very awful sight.”
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but police blamed Islamic militants fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir. The rebels have been fighting since 1989 to carve out a separate homeland or merge Kashmir with India’s neighbor Pakistan.
The village is located 40 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s Jammu-Kashmir state.
The car, a private sports utility vehicle being used by the army, was on night patrol when the explosion occurred, Ahmed said. The occupants included the major, eight army soldiers, a police officer and the driver, he said.
In the nearby town of Anantnag 35 miles south of Srinagar, two militants were holed up in a mosque and engaged in a gunbattle with troopers who had surrounded the building, police said.
Firing had continued overnight after the men entered the mosque late Saturday, a police officer said on customary condition of anonymity.
The 14-year insurgency in India’s only Muslim-majority state has claimed more than 66,000 lives.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but each claims the region in its entirety. They have fought two wars over Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947.