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Bomb Blast Kills 9 Soldiers in Kashmir

Islamic militants triggered a car bomb by remote control as an army convoy drove past a popular park in India's portion of Kashmir on Friday, killing nine soldiers and wounding 22 other people, an army official said.

A large number of tourists were visiting the Nishat Garden at the park's entrance on the outskirts of Srinagar city, said army spokesman Lt. Col. V. K. Batra.

Soon after the blast, a person identifying himself as the spokesman for a Pakistan-based rebel group, Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen, claimed responsibility in a telephone call to the Current News Service, a local news agency. The man, who did not identify himself by name, said the army convoy was the target of the attack.

Four soldiers were killed instantly and five died later in a hospital. Three civilians were among the injured, Batra said. The wounded were hospitalized in Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state.

Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen is one of more than a dozen Islamic rebels groups that have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan. More than 66,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the 15-year conflict.

(Chinadaily.com via agencies June 25, 2005)

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