26 Feb 2006 09:46:01 GMT, Source: Reuters
SRINAGAR, India, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Suspected Muslim militants set off a car bomb on Sunday wounding three soldiers and a civilian in Kashmir’s biggest city where police have tightened security ahead of U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit to India.
Witnesses said the blast shook buildings in Bemina, a residential area in Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, mainly Hindu India’s only Muslim-majority state.
"The explosives-laden car was parked on the highway and went off as an army convoy was passing," Lieutenant-Colonel V.K. Batra told Reuters.
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the blast.
Police said they have beefed up security across strife-torn Kashmir ahead a visit by Bush to India and Pakistan next week.
In March 2000, 35 minority Sikhs were killed in a Kashmir village by gunmen in an attack which came hours before then U.S. President Bill Clinton began a state visit to India.
"We are taking lot of precautions and more police personnel have been deployed particularly in villages where people from minority communities live," a senior police official said.
More than 200,000 Hindus fled Kashmir for safer places elsewhere in India when the Muslim separatist insurgency broke out in 1989, but at least 10,000, along with thousands of Sikhs, choose to stay in the Muslim-majority state.
Sikhs and Hindus have been targeted several times by militants fighting New Delhi’s rule over the region.
Himalayan Kashmir is claimed by India and Pakistan and has been the cause of two wars between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Violence continues in the area, but at a reduced level, despite an India-Pakistan peace process launched two years ago.
New Delhi continues to blame Pakistan for abetting the Kashmir revolt. Islamabad denies the charge.
In an interview with India’s state-run TV channel Doordarshan aired at the weekend, Bush said he would take up the issue of "terrorist training camps" in Pakistan with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.