Grenade attack in India’s Jammu injures 18
NEWS DIGEST–Eighteen people were injured on Thursday when a grenade exploded at a bus stop in the Indian city of Jammu, in the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.
The blast comes amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan after 40 Indian troops were killed on February 14 in the part of Kashmir that New Delhi controls, sparking the biggest standoff between the countries in years.
“It seems that the grenade was lobbed from outside (the premises) and it rolled under the bus and caused injuries to approximately 18 people,” police official MK Sinha told journalists.
“A grenade was hurled by an unidentified person which exploded under a bus in the main terminal. Four people are critical,” a second police officer told AFP.
“The bus was about to leave to Pathankot city in Punjab.”
Purported videos of the incident circulating on social media showed injured people lying on the ground with locals trying to help them.
The February 14 suicide bombing was the deadliest attack in Kashmir on Indian forces in a 30-year insurgency by militants wanting independence or to be part of Pakistan in which tens of thousands have died.
India has long accused Islamabad of supporting the insurgents and the attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a militant group based in Pakistan.
In response, India said it carried out on February 26 air strikes on what it called a JeM training camp at Balakot inside Pakistan.
Vijay Keshav Gokhale, Indian foreign secretary, said that “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated”.
The Pakistani government said that no sites or targets had been hit, and on February 27 Islamabad launched its own air strike.
In an ensuing dogfight at least one Indian aircraft was shot down and the pilot captured by Pakistan.
As fears rose that the two nuclear-armed nations might enter their fourth war, Pakistan released the pilot in what it called a “gesture of peace”.
This helped ease tensions, although both countries have continued to fire artillery and mortars over their de-facto border, the Line of Control, killing civilians on both sides.
Indian forces have also fought gun battles with militants and arrested hundreds of people.
– Hindu-dominated –
Jammu is largely a Hindu-dominated area of the disputed Himalayan region that is ruled by India and Pakistan in parts, but claimed by both.
Jammu has witnessed several incidents of militant attacks in the past despite little to no support to armed rebels that enjoy widespread public backing in the Kashmir region.
Most of the attacks have been targeted at military installations, including a strike by militants of JeM on an army base in Sunjuwan area in February 2018 that left 11 people dead, including six soldiers and four attackers.
Police suggested that the blast could be aimed at fomenting tensions between different communities in Jammu city, home to around half a million people.
Indian police imposed a curfew for several days in Jammu in the wake of the February 14 attack after mobs attacked and set fire to properties belonging to Kashmiri Muslims.