A suicide car bomb exploded on the outskirts of Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinigar today, killing two policeman and three passers-by and wounding a dozen more people, police and hospital officials said.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group, which has been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India, claimed responsibility in a call to a local news agency.
The caller who identified himself as Abu Qadama said that the blast was a suicide attack.
The blast came on the day when the state’s new chief minister was being sworn in and occurred on the outskirts of the city, the summer capital of the Jammu-Kashmir state, some nine miles from the site of the swearing-in ceremony.
The car was stopped at a routine police roadblock in Nowgam, a suburb of Srinagar. The driver then detonated the bomb, said Gopal Sharma, Director General of Police.
“Five deaths have been confirmed. These include two policemen and three civilians. The militant was also killed,” Sharma told The Associated Press.
In Srinagar’s main hospital, at least a dozen civilians were being treated for shrapnel wounds.
Some of them were in a critical condition, said Manzoor Chanta, a doctor in the hospital’s emergency room.
Several police officers were also wounded, Sharma said.
Nearly a dozen Islamic rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan and more than 66,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the armed uprising in 1989.
India accuses Pakistan of aiding and arming the militants at training camps on the Pakistani side of Kashmir – a charge Islamabad denies.
Both India and Pakistan claim the divided Himalayan region and have fought two wars over it.
However, ties between the South Asian rivals have improved following a peace-process, which began early last year and also in the wake of the massive October 8 earthquake which struck Kashmir.
The two countries have stepped up co-operation to provide relief to the victims.
The attack was not in an area affected by the quake and the uprising has continued unabated.