Bus blast kills nine in Punjab

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The Independent Online

A powerful blast ripped apart a bus in the northern state of Punjab on Friday, killing at least nine people and wounding 12, police said.

A powerful blast ripped apart a bus in the northern state of Punjab on Friday, killing at least nine people and wounding 12, police said.

Seven people were hospitalized in critical condition in Sirhind and Ludhiana cities, police said. Eight passengers were killed on the spot and the other died while being rescued, police said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast at Tarkhan Majra village, 210 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Amritsar. But suspicion fell on Kashmiri and Sikh separatist groups.

The New Delhi-bound bus was coming from Jammu in the neighboring state of Jammu-Kashmir, where an Islamic insurrection has raged for more than a decade. A Sikh separatist movement that erupted in neighboring Punjab in 1984 was crushed a decade later.

Police officer Tilak Raj told The Associated Press that the bomb had been kept in a back seat of the bus.

The explosion ripped apart the entire roof and pieces of the metal fell about 1 km (1/2 mile) away, he said in a telephone interview.

The driver fled the scene.

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