July 8, 2006

Kashmir woman leader survives attack, four killed

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - A woman politician in Indian
Kashmir survived a sixth attempt on her life on Saturday when
suspected militants threw a grenade, but four of her supporters
were killed, police said.

Sakina Itoo, 36, lawmaker and a leader of the National
Conference party, was coming out of a shrine along with her
supporters when the militants attacked, a police spokesman

"Itoo received splinter injuries but she is out of danger"
the spokesman said, adding that a former member of the
legislative assembly, Ghulam Nabi Dar, and three others were
killed in the explosion.

More than 20 of Itoo's supporters were wounded.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack
which took place in Kulgam, 65 km (40 miles) south of Srinagar,
summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state.

"The explosion was deafening, I saw people falling on each
other ... bleeding and screaming for help," Mohammad Shafi, who
witnessed the attack, told Reuters.

Itoo, a former tourism minister, has survived five previous
attempts on her life since an Islamic insurgency broke out in
the region in 1989. More than 45,000 people have been killed
since then.

Her father, a former speaker of the state legislature and
senior leader of the National Conference party, was killed by
militants in 1995.

Violence has increased in the state in recent months as
summer melts snow in the region's mountain passes, allowing
easier movement of militants. Kashmir is part-ruled by nuclear
rivals India and Pakistan, but claimed in full by both.