Blast hits security patrol in Indian KASHMIR


Witnesses had earlier said the target was a police patrol and the blast caused by a landmine. The explosion occurred on the road to the airport, outside the home of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has refused to meet Singh.


(23.05.2006)

Srinagar, India - A suicide bomber blew himself up as an Indian security patrol passed the home of a hardline Kashmiri separatist on Tuesday, the eve of a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the region, police said.

At least 22 Border Security Force troops were injured, four critically, in the blast that ripped apart a bus carrying the soldiers, BSF spokesperson Vikram Singh Manhas said.

The suicide bomber ran alongside the bus, which was escorted by a jeep, before detonating his explosives, a police officer who did not want to be named said.

It was the latest in a series of attacks in the main city of Srinagar ahead of a two-day visit by Singh from Wednesday for talks with Kashmiri groups.
Witnesses had earlier said the target was a police patrol and the blast caused by a landmine.

The explosion occurred on the road to the airport, outside the home of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has refused to meet Singh.

Singh's visit for a roundtable with Kashmiri groups is a rare overnight stop in the troubled valley by an Indian leader and is the second such event to be held this year.

Islamist rebels, fighting Indian rule since 1989 - a struggle that has killed tens of thousands of people - have threatened to disrupt the meeting.

In what analysts termed a setback to the roundtable, the main political separatists, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC), an alliance of two dozen political, religious and community groups, has said it would not attend.

An official in the prime minister's office in New Delhi said on Monday Singh would go ahead with the conference despite the Hurriyat boycott and the violence.

The Hurriyat has held two rounds of direct talks with Singh, the latest this month.

The Hurriyat has also talked with Pakistan, which controls part of Kashmir but like India, claims it in full. The nuclear rivals have fought two of their three wars over the region, where India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan come together.

India has also been engaged in a peace dialogue with Pakistan for the past two years which has made little progress on the core issue of Kashmir.


Von: 23.05.2006, http://www.iol.co.za

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