June 11, 2006

One killed, 20 wounded in Kashmir grenade attack

JAMMU, India (Reuters) - At least one person was killed and
20 wounded in Indian Kashmir on Monday when suspected Islamist
militants threw a grenade at a crowded bus station, police

The bus station in Jammu city, winter capital of the state,
is located close to a camp where hundreds of pilgrims stay
before a long journey to Amarnath, a Hindu shrine deep in the

"I was about to board a bus when something exploded between
some buses," said Manoj Kumar, who sustained glass splinter
injuries and was admitted to a local hospital.

Islamist militants fighting against Indian rule in the
disputed region have attacked the annual pilgrimage several
times in the past but the last three years have been peaceful.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the

The pilgrimage was due to begin on Monday after its start
was postponed from Sunday due to heavy snow in the mountains.
Thousands of troops guard the route of the pilgrimage which
ends in a cave shrine.

The pilgrims worship an ice stalagmite in the cave which
they regard as a symbol of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of
destruction. A record 400,000 pilgrims visited the shrine last

There has been a spike in violence in Kashmir in recent
weeks as the onset of summer has melted snow in the region's
mountain passes, allowing easier movement of militants.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the region
since the guerrillas launched an insurgency against New Delhi's
rule in 1989.

Kashmir is at the heart of nearly 60 years of enmity
between India and Pakistan, both of whom claim the region in
full but rule it in parts.