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Suicide bomber kills 5, wounds 17 in Kashmir

A suicide bomber slammed a car into a military jeep in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday, killing six people and wounding 17, officials said.
/ Source: Reuters

A suicide bomber slammed a car into a military jeep in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday, killing six people — including himself and four soldiers — and wounding 17, police and hospital officials said.

“Suddenly there was a huge explosion,” witness Ghulam Mohammad said. “I was thrown off my cycle. When I looked back I saw a lot of dust and smoke. I could hear people screaming for help.”

Hizbul Mujahedeen, the main Muslim militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, called newspaper offices shortly after the blast and claimed responsibility for the attack which took place 50 yards from a Christian missionary school.

At the site, soldiers picked up the bodies of their dead comrades and carried them away. The bomber’s car was blown apart, the white military jeep he attacked left badly mangled.

A civilian driving a scooter was also killed, his vehicle lying on its side near the jeep. Bloodstains marked the road, which was carpeted by hundreds of green leaves from Kashmir’s towering Chinar trees, shaken down by the blast.

Police in the turbulent Himalayan region said most of the wounded were civilians and had been rushed to hospital.

“Apparently it was a suicide bomber who rammed into the army jeep. We are investigating,” police officer Sayed Ahmed said.

Outside Srinagar’s main government hospital, anxious people gathered around a list of 17 wounded people.

“It was loud, the ground shook,” said Azad Ahmed Khan as he was carried on a stretcher to a trauma ward, one side of his face covered with blood. “Something hit my face.”

A teenage girl whose mother was wounded beat her chest outside the crowded ward, angry at those responsible.

“Let God’s wrath punish you,” she shouted in Kashmiri with tears in her eyes.

'All students are safe'
Worried parents also rushed to the Christian missionary school asking about their children. The school put up a sign on its closed gate reading: “All students are safe.”

The blast, which partially damaged a four-story office building, took place near a high-security zone where several ministers from the Jammu and Kashmir state government live.

“Whoever is behind the blast was not bothered about human life,” director-general of police, Gopal Sharma, told reporters shortly after the blast. “Hundreds of children play here on this road. This is a clear-cut example of a terror attack.”

The explosion came as India said there had been a recent rise in incursions by Muslim militants fighting New Delhi’s rule in Indian Kashmir.

On Tuesday the army said militants were crossing from the Pakistani sector as snow melted on the mountain passes, but said the incursions were not on a scale which would damage the India-Pakistan peace process.