Seven killed, 60 injured by bombs in Pakistan and Kashmir

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The Independent Online

Pakistan's simmering conflict with India over Kashmir left at least seven people dead and some 60 people injured in a spate of Christmas Day bombings that further raised tensions between the states.

Pakistan's simmering conflict with India over Kashmir left at least seven people dead and some 60 people injured in a spate of Christmas Day bombings that further raised tensions between the states.

Indian police said that at least seven people were killed, including four soldiers, and more than 20 wounded in a suicide car-bomb explosion near the heavily guarded Indian army headquarters in Srinagar, the main city of Indian-ruled Kashmir.

Bombs also went off in four Pakistani cities, injuring 45 people, including one in the eastern border city of Lahore that exploded in a crowded market, setting stalls alight and triggering a stampede.

That bombing occurred as people were busy shopping for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which follows the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The other blasts occurred in a railway station in Faisalabad, also in eastern Punjab state, injuring three people, and on a passenger bus in Hyderabad in the south, injuring six.

No one was hurt in the fourth explosion in Kharian, 70 miles north of Lahore.

Police had been on alert for possible retaliatory attacks since last Friday's daring attack by Islamic militants on the historic Red Fort, at the heart of the Indian capital, a senior Pakistani police officer said. The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting to separate Kashmir from India, killed three people at the fort.

A Pakistan-based rebel group, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the car-bomb in Kashmir. The bomb blasts in Pakistan were not immediately claimed, but police were quick to point the finger of blame at India.

India and Pakistan have fought several times over Kashmir since independence in 1947.India says the 11-year-old insurgency has claimed more than 30,000 lives, but human rights activists say that the toll is more likely double that figure.

The car bomb was the latest in a series of militant strikes since India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, announced a unilateral ceasefire on 28 November for Ramadan. He has since extended the truce for another month. That prompted Pakistan to withdraw some troops from the line that divides the province.

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