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Grenade attack on minister kills three in Kashmir

Attack occurred as Nayeem Akhtar, a local government minister, was passing through Tral

Gulf News

SRINAGAR, India: Suspected militants fired a grenade Thursday at the motorcade of a local politician in Indian-administered Kashmir, killing three bystanders and wounding at least 20 others, police said.

The attack occurred as Nayeem Akhtar, a local government minister, was passing through the southern town of Tral. He escaped unhurt.

“Three civilians were killed in the attack. We are investigating,” director general of police SP Vaid told AFP, adding it appeared a grenade launcher was used to fire the explosive.

At least 20 people, including 10 government forces personnel, were also injured in the blast in the disputed Himalayan territory, he added.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the restive territory in full.

Rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces for decades demanding independence or a merger with Pakistan. India maintains roughly 500,000 troops in Kashmir.

At least 140 armed militants, including some senior commanders, have been killed since the start of the year by government forces.

Militant ranks have swelled since security forces shot dead a hugely popular rebel commander, Burhan Wani, last year.

Wani was a native of Tral where Thursday’s attack was staged.

His death sparked months of deadly anti-India protests and a military crackdown that left more than 100 civilians dead and thousands more injured.

Last month militants attacked a police base in southern Kashmir valley, killing eight soldiers. The three attackers were also killed in the firefight.

On Wednesday evening suspected rebels attacked security forces and stole weapons in southern Banihal town, killing one and injuring another.

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