Wed, May 15, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Kashmiri militants kill over 30 people in bus, camp raids

REUTERS , JAMMU, INDIA

At least 32 people, including women and children, died when militants raided a bus and an army camp in Indian Kashmir yesterday in the bloodiest attack in the region in nearly eight months, the army said.

The dawn attack came as US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca was in New Delhi to try to ease tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

An army spokesman in New Delhi said yesterday's battle lasted four hours before all three militants, suspected members of Islamic groups fighting India's rule, were killed.

Many of the victims were wives and children of soldiers stationed at the base.

"Rebels in combat dress alighted from a transport bus near the army camp after opening indiscriminate fire," a defense spokesman said.

The rebels then stormed the gates of the Ratnachak army camp which houses family blocks, supply depots and canteens about 15km south of Jammu, the Himalayan state's winter capital.

"After storming the gate, they injured the gate-keeper and after that they barged into the family quarters."

Television pictures of the bus showed shattered windows, holes blown in the side, and blood and broken glass on the floor.

No one has yet claimed responsibility, but police at the scene said they suspected Pakistan-based militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammad, which have a history of carrying out suicide attacks on army installations.

It was the bloodiest attack in Kashmir since 38 people died in a suicide raid on the state assembly in October.

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