Four Indian officers killed in Kashmir bombing
Indian police say four of its officers have been killed in a bomb attack by militants in New Delhi-ruled Kashmir.
The massive explosion struck the police patrol in the town of Sopore in Jammu and Kashmir, according to the police.
The incident happened at a time when streets in the town were deserted and shops and businesses were shut down to mark the 1993 carnage, which saw government troops kill at least 47 people after an Indian paramilitary soldier died during an assault by pro-independence forces.
The general strike across Sopore was called by pro-independence leaders who fiercely oppose India’s claim of sovereignty over the predominantly Muslim-populated Himalayan region.
The town had already been on high alert with hundreds of Indian police and paramilitary forces patrolling the region in anticipation of anti-India protest rallies and clashes.
According to local police officials, at least half a dozen shuttered businesses were extensively damaged as a result of the explosion.
The so-called Jaish-e-Mohammed (Jem) group claimed responsibility for the bombing attack, as reported by the local English-language Greater Kashmir newspaper.
Since 1989, a number of local armed groups have been fighting Indian troops and police forces deployed in the Himalayan territory.
More than half a million Indian soldiers have been deployed in Kashmir since that year, when popular calls grew for independence or a merger of the territory with Muslim-majority Pakistan.
A former British colony, Kashmir was divided between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan in 1947. Each administers parts of Kashmir though both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.
Tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, have been killed in decades of fighting in Kashmir while the two neighbors continue to blame each other for the protracted violence.