SRINAGAR, India (AP) — An explosion tore through a mosque complex in the insurgency-wracked Indian portion of Kashmir early Thursday, wounding nine worshippers, police said.
The explosive device went off as people were filing out of the mosque’s main prayer hall in the village of Trenz, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-held portion of the disputed territory, police officer Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani said.
No one has claimed responsibility, and Gillani said police would not speculate who was behind the attack.
While violence tied to anti-India rebels has escalated in recent weeks, Thursday’s blast was considered rare as there have been very few attacks near Muslim places of worship. Rebels have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence or merger with Pakistan, which controls another portion of the territory in the west.
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Those wounded in Thursday’s blast were rushed to a hospital, including four with multiple shrapnel wounds.
One of them, 75-year-old Abdul Gani Dar, said the explosion came from a drinking glass that had been lying outside the entrance to the mosque’s main prayer hall.
“When a caretaker went to pick it up, the glass exploded with a deafening sound,” Dar said.
Also on Thursday, police defused another similar device outside the home of a commander of Hizbul Mujahedeen, the largest militant group in the Indian portion of Kashmir, Gillani said.
Late Wednesday, insurgents staged two attacks. In Trenz, militants wounded an Indian army soldier who was traveling with other soldiers in a car in the rural area. In Srinagar, meanwhile, rebels threw a grenade at government forces outside a police station and injured at least three police and a paramilitary soldier.
Government forces have stepped up security patrols across the mostly Muslim territory ahead of India’s Independence Day celebrations on Saturday, which many in Kashmir use to protest Indian rule. Roadblocks lined with razor wire were causing huge traffic jams in Srinagar.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the insurgents, a charge Islamabad denies. More than 68,000 people have died in the conflict since 1989, while India and Pakistan earlier fought two wars over control of the territory.