Asia PacificTerrorism

Gunmen Attack Hindu Pilgrim Bus in India’s Kashmir, Nine Killed: Police

Gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims in Indian-administered Kashmir, which then tumbled into a ravine killing at least nine people, police said Sunday.

The attack came around an hour before Hindu-nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a third term on Sunday evening in the capital New Delhi.

“Initial reports suggest that militants were waiting there in an ambush and they fired on the bus,” police officer Mohita Sharma told AFP.

“The driver lost control and fell into the deep gorge. Nine people died and 23 were injured.”

The crash happened near Reasi town, in the south of the disputed territory, as the bus was returning from a popular Hindu shrine in the area.

Opposition Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge condemned the “gruesome terror attack” in a post on social media platform X.

Modi’s “chest-thumping propaganda of bringing peace and normalcy… rings hollow,” he said.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947, and both claim the high-altitude territory in full.

Rebel groups have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence or a merger with Pakistan.

The conflict has left tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers, and rebels dead.

Violence and anti-India protests have drastically fallen since 2019, when Modi’s government cancelled the region’s limited autonomy.

Five rebels and an Indian air force corporal were killed in clashes since election campaigning began in the territory in April until voting ended this month. Two suspected rebels were also killed in a firefight with soldiers on June 3.

But the vote saw a 58.6 percent turnout, according to the election commission, a 30-percentage-point jump from the last vote in 2019 and the highest in 35 years.

No separatist group called for a boycott of the election — a first since the armed revolt against Indian rule erupted in the territory in 1989.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of supporting and arming the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.

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