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25 Hindu Civilians Killed in Kashmir

July 14, 2002|From Associated Press

JAMMU, India — Suspected Islamic guerrillas threw grenades and opened fire Saturday in a crowded slum in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, killing at least 25 Hindu civilians.

Most of those killed in the evening attack outside Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, were women and children, an officer at the state's police control room said on condition of anonymity. More than 30 others were wounded.

Up to eight suspected Islamic militants walked into the Qasimnagar slum and threw three or four grenades before opening fire with automatic weapons, witnesses told police. They fled after trading gunfire with security forces, who launched a manhunt in the area.

The attack was the biggest since a May 14 assault by Islamic guerrillas on a military base near Jammu that killed 34 people--mostly soldiers' wives and children.

Witnesses to Saturday's attack said the first grenade exploded while many in the shantytown were watching a cricket match between India and England on television. Dozens of people rushed to investigate, many of whom were killed by the blasts that followed over the next few minutes.

State Police Chief Ashok Suri said authorities suspect the Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of more than a dozen Islamic groups fighting to secure independence or merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan for the Indian-held part of Kashmir. He did not elaborate.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

India and Pakistan both claim all of Kashmir, a Himalayan region divided between the two countries after they gained independence from Britain in 1947. India controls two-thirds and Pakistan the rest.

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